‘DISGUSTING & unnecessary’: NHL star Evans stretchered off after SICKENING hit just moments after he scored into empty net (VIDEO)
The Montreal Canadiens’ victory at the Winnipeg Jets on Wednesday night was marred by a “gutless” hit from Mark Scheifele, who flattened Canadiens forward Jake Evans just moments after he’d scored into an empty net.
Inside the final minute of Game 1 of the second-round playoff meeting, Evans broke to sweep the ball into the net after circling behind the goal, putting the finishing touches on a 5-3 win for the visitors in Winnipeg.
Just as he’d done so, Scheifele came crashing into him entirely unnecessarily, sending Evans face-first onto the ice as his stick flew out of his hand.
The brutal hit sparked a melee as Evans remained stricken on the ice and officials and teammates scrambled to ensure he didn’t receive even more damage in the fracas.
Evans was eventually attended to and left the ice on a stretcher around eight minutes later, giving a thumbs-up to indicate that he was not seriously hurt.
Canadiens coach Dominique Ducharme later confirmed the forward – who was celebrating his 25th birthday – had not been taken to the hospital but was under evaluation.
Scheifele, who was the Jets’ leading scorer in the regular season, was handed a five-minute major for charging and a game misconduct, although the NHL’s Department of Player safety will likely take a another look at the incident.
Fans and pundits online were largely united in their assessment of Scheifele’s conduct, accusing him of “disgusting” and “gutless” behavior.
“The Scheifele hit is gutless. Don’t let anyone off the hook with taking points about point of contact,” wrote Athletic reporter Scott Wheeler.
“It’s predatory and the only way it’s not suspendable is if the rules are broken. There’s no reason to deliver it. It’s a frustrated player trying to hurt someone. It’s bullsh*t.”
“Disgusting and unnecessary. Gross cheap shot by Scheifele. Puck was going in. Cmon now,” wrote ESPN reporter Ariel Helwani, a man more commonly associated with commenting on a similar kind of carnage in the MMA cage.
Elsewhere, others credited Evans’ teammates and members of the Jets for protecting the fallen star during the melee that followed the gruesome hit.
Disgusting and unnecessary. Gross cheap shot by Scheifele. Puck was going in. Cmon now. pic.twitter.com/d6gm1CfHJM— Ariel Helwani (@arielhelwani) June 3, 2021
The Scheifele hit is gutless. Don’t let anyone off the hook with taking points about point of contact. It’s predatory and the only way it’s not suspendable is if the rules are broken. There’s no reason to deliver it. It’s a frustrated player trying to hurt someone. It’s bullshit.— Scott Wheeler (@scottcwheeler) June 3, 2021
As upsetting as the Mark Scheifele hit was, I can’t stop thinking about the way Nikolaj Ehlers rushed over and protected Jake Evans from the scrum.That’s how you respect the game. (Photo: David Lipnowski, Getty Images) pic.twitter.com/3Al1oyTVz4— Emily Kaplan (@emilymkaplan) June 3, 2021
Some, however, attempted to defend Scheifele, passing the incident off as all part of the game.
"It's a physical game - when did players stop being responsible for protecting themselves? He made a tradeoff - scored a goal but left himself prone. Either you can hit a player or you cant. Why does context matter?" wrote one fan.
Evans' teammates intimated that they would be targeting Scheifele later in the series to settle the score.
"It was a dirty hit. But the league's going to take care of it. If he gets back in the series, we're going to make his life miserable," said Canadiens defenseman Joel Edmundson.
The best-of-seven series stays in Winnipeg for Game 2 on Friday night.