May 20 (UPI) -- Toronto Maple Leafs captain John Tavares was stretchered off the ice and hospitalized after taking a knee to his face Thursday in Game 1 of the team's first-round playoff series against the Montreal Canadiens.
Tavares gave the crowd at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto a thumbs-up as he left the ice on the stretcher. The Maple Leafs said he was transported to a local hospital.
The scary incident occurred in the first period when Tavares fell to the ice after a hit from Canadiens defenseman Ben Chiarot. As Tavares was falling to the ice, Canadiens forward Corey Perry inadvertently clipped him in the head with his knee.
The 30-year-old Tavares was moving his extremities while trainers examined him. At one point, he tried to stand up but couldn't, losing his balance and falling backward.
Multiple Canadiens players skated over to wish Tavares well before he was taken to the locker room, including Perry.
Maple Leafs forward Wayne Simmonds called the violent collision a "scary sight" and said his team was shaken.
"It's on us. We've got to get this one for Johnny," Simmonds said after the first period. "I know he wouldn't want anything but for us to get the win for him tonight. So we've got to do that."
Toronto forward Nick Foligno fought Perry shortly after the game resumed.
The Canadiens issued a statement on social media during Thursday's game, writing: "We'd like to express our concern for John Tavares and are sending him our best wishes for a speedy recovery."
The Leafs and Canadiens are playing against each other in the Stanley Cup playoffs for the first time since 1979.