Late in the third period of the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-2 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning, Penguins rookie defenseman John Marino drew an immediate whistle when his head absorbed a deflected slap shot.
The incident occurred with about four minutes remaining in the game. Marino was part of the Penguins penalty-killing unit and the shot from Tampa Bay star Steve Stamkos deflected off Zach Aston-Reese’s stick. Marino went down immediately, the whistle blew and fellow Penguins and Tampa Bay players quickly called for trainers.
Fortunately, the injury sounds more scary than harmful.
“We think he’s going to be OK. He’s being evaluated right now,” head coach Mike Sullivan said after the game as he motioned towards his own face. “He got hit in the cheek.”
Marino, 22, is in the midst of an eye-opening rookie year. He has 25 points (5g, 20a) in 51 games including a third period goal on Thursday night. The Penguins defenseman has recently claimed the Penguins second pairing spot with Marcus Pettersson, despite Justin Schultz’s return to the lineup.
If he misses any time, John Marino would be the latest Penguins casualty to injury. Schultz just returned to the lineup after more than six weeks and top-pairing defenseman Brian Dumoulin remains out after he suffered cut tendons from an opponent skate in a game against the St. Louis Blues on Nov. 30.
The Penguins lost to Tampa Bay, 4-2 at Amelia Arena. The game featured the two most winningest teams in the NHL since Dec. 4. Tampa Bay won 20 games and the Penguins won 19 games since that date.
The Penguins third period comeback fizzled in the loss. Read the Pittsburgh Hockey Now recap here.