DALLAS — Joe Pavelski‘s status is unknown for Game 2 of the Western Conference First Round against the Minnesota Wild at American Airlines Center on Wednesday (9:30 p.m. ET; ESPN21, SN360, TVAS2, BSSW, BSNX), so the Dallas Stars will prepare as though the forward will not play.
“We’re going to look at all those options and line combinations and things,” Stars coach Peter DeBoer said after a team meeting here Tuesday, a day after Pavelski was injured on a hit from Wild defenseman Matt Dumba with 7:58 remaining in the second period of a 3-2 loss in double overtime in Game 1 on Monday.
“We didn’t score a 5-on-5 goal last night, so that’s a little bit of a concern,” DeBoer said. “We’ll come up with some combinations that hopefully can solve that problem.”
DeBoer said Tuesday he hadn’t spoken to Pavelski, but teammates and trainers did.
“Seems OK, but we left him at home,” DeBoer said.
[RELATED: Complete Stars vs. Wild series coverage]
Pavelski had taken a backhand shot on goal when he was checked by Dumba; at the same time, Minnesota forward Ryan Hartman was closing in, and Pavelski was hit in the face by Hartman’s stick, which got caught between Dumba and Pavelski.
Pavelski’s head hit the ice when he fell, and he was helped off by teammate Mason Marchment and a trainer.
Dumba was assessed a roughing minor. Stars forward Max Domi, who fought Dumba after the hit, was called for a roughing minor and a 10-minute misconduct.
Asked if the 38-year-old were in concussion protocol, DeBoer said, “I don’t have anything like that yet. I’ll let you know as soon as I have anything firm.
Center Wyatt Johnston, who has lived with Pavelski and his family this season, said Pavelski was OK after the game.
“Obviously it was a big hit and I think everyone kind of saw the aftermath, but I mean, he was in pretty good spirits,” Johnston said. “I was able to talk to him a bit and happy to see that he’s doing his regular things.”
Pavelski had 77 points (28 goals, 49 assists) in 82 regular-season games, third on Dallas behind Jason Robertson (109 points; 46 goals, 63 assists) and forward Jamie Benn (78 points; 33 goals, 45 assists). He had 27 power-play points, including 13 goals, which tied Robertson and Benn for the Stars lead.
After Pavelski left Game 1, forward Tyler Seguin took his spot on the top line at right wing with Robertson and center Roope Hintz. There’s a chance Seguin will be there again in Game 2; Ty Dellandrea would play center on the second line, Seguin’s usual spot, with left wing Marchment and right wing Domi.
“The mentality is the same, next man up,” Seguin said. “You go out there and do your job no matter who you’re with, focus on your own details. That’s all you can do at this point of the year.
“You get in these games, a lot of times, you’re playing with so many different guys, things can happen, like double overtimes on a Monday. You focus on that next shift, staying in that moment.”
Pavelski was on the first power-play unit that capitalized twice in the second period of Game 1; Hintz scored at 2:08, three seconds into Dallas’ first power play, and Robertson scored at 4:13, six seconds into the second opportunity, with Pavelski having the secondary assist. The Stars did not score on the three power plays they had after Pavelski was injured. Seguin also took Pavelski’s place on the first power play.
“I mean, how important is Joe to every situation he plays in for our group? But probably they’re saying the same about [Joel] Eriksson Ek,” DeBoer said of the Wild forward who missed Game 1 with a lower-body injury. “It’s this time of year, that’s what you deal with, next man up and you have to handle that adversity.”
It wasn’t the first time Pavelski has left a playoff game with a serious injury. He sustained a concussion when, as captain of the San Jose Sharks in Game 7 of the Western Conference First Round in 2019, he was cross-checked by Vegas Golden Knights forward Cody Eakin following a face-off and then run into by Golden Knights forward Paul Stastny, knocking an off-balance Pavelski to the ice. He hit his head and had to be helped to the dressing room.
Pavelski returned in Game 7 of the Western Conference Second Round against the Colorado Avalanche, getting a goal and an assist to help the Sharks advance to the Western Conference Final, where they lost to the eventual Cup champion St. Louis Blues in six games.
The Stars hope Pavelski is back soon but will be motivated to win for him in his absence.
“You want to rally around it. It leaves a pit in your stomach when things like that happen,” Seguin said. “So yeah, it’s emotional, it’s a hard guy to lose and we have to respond for him.”
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