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Lightning’s Mikhail Sergachev gutted by latest frightening injury

NHL: Tampa Bay Lightning at New York Rangers
Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

Shortly after sustaining a devastating lower-body injury Wednesday at Madison Square Garden, Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Mikhail Sergachev turned to Instagram to share his raw emotions.

“Trying to stay calm and positive, but it’s impossible,” Sergachev wrote in part.

The two-time Stanley Cup champion was injured seven minutes into the second period of the Lightning’s 3-1 loss to the New York Rangers. Sergachev went to check Rangers forward Alexis Lafreniere along the boards, but Lafreniere delivered a clean reverse hit in anticipation.

Sergachev absorbed the blow and his left leg buckled. The  25-year-old collapsed to the ice, grabbing his knee and screaming in pain. The Garden went silent, players from both teams lingered on the ice and eventually Sergachev was taken off on a stretcher.

“You feel sick to your stomach,” Lightning captain Steven Stamkos told NHL.com.

The Lightning announced Thursday that Sergachev had successful surgery in New York to stabilize fractures in the tibia and fibula of his left leg. His recovery timeline is unknown.

Related: Top 25 NHL trade candidates ahead of 2024 deadline

Mikhail Sergachev sustains devastating injury in 1st game back after long absence

NHL: Tampa Bay Lightning at New York Rangers
Feb 7, 2024; New York, New York, USA; Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Mikhail Sergachev (98) chases the puck in the first period against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

To make things worse, Sergachev was injured in his first game back to the Lightning lineup in nearly two months. He had been out with a lower-body injury since Dec. 19.

“Oh man, why me? Why now?” Sergachev began on his social media post. “After all the games I missed, coming back and getting injured again, feels unfair, feels terrible.”

Later Sergachev sounded more optimistic.

“The universe is unpredictable I guess, and has its own plans, but f*** the universe man, I know I’ll come back stronger and I’ll play better than before but it’s tough right now, and it’s gonna be tough tomorrow.”

Lightning coach Jon Cooper was emotional in the moment and following the game. He left the bench to have a word with Sergachev when he was stretchered from the ice.

“In the end, you’ve got your family, your biological family, but these are the people you spend pretty much your whole life with. So, it goes beyond hockey,” Cooper explained. “He’s a really tough kid and there were emotions coming out. You care for the guys. It was clear the Rangers cared for him, they all cleared the bench. It’s a little bit more than hockey when it comes down to things like that.”

Sergachev and defenseman Erik Cernak both returned from previous injuries Wednesday, fueling hope that the Lightning were finally healthy and poised to make a run in the Atlantic Division.

Despite the loss to the Rangers, the Lightning have won eight of their past 10 games. They are one point behind the third-place Toronto Maple Leafs in the Atlantic and are the first wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference.

With the NHL trade deadline looming March 8, the Lightning may now need to seek a top-four left-shot defenseman to fill Sergachev’s void if he’s out long term. Jakob Chychrun of the Ottawa Senators, Noah Hanifin of the Calgary Flames and Nick Seeler of the Philadelphia Flyers could be trade candidates for the Lightning.

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