NEW YORK -- In one of the most gruesome scenes yet of the 2013 season, the New York Rangers lost defenseman Marc Staal to an eye injury in the third period of the team's 4-2 win against the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday night.
Staal, hit in the right eye by a tipped puck at the 5:45 mark of the third period, was sent to the ice in pain. He spent several minutes face-down and bleeding before he skated off on his own to the trainer's room.
He did not return to the game.
The Rangers did not provide an update after the game and it is not immediately clear whether or not the 26-year-old blue-liner was taken to the hospital for further evaluation.
"That was scary," goaltender Henrik Lundqvist said. "He was in a lot of pain. It was tough to focus after that."
Seeing Staal in such obvious distress rattled several of his teammates.
"I heard the shot and I heard him. It's a scary play to see," said his defense partner Dan Girardi. "A guy that's in a lot of pain and that's a big part of our team. I think he's OK [but] I haven't heard much. I'm going to check on him and hopefully he's OK."
"When it's that close to his eye, there's no way to really prevent that. It's off a stick and into his face," Callahan said. "You could feel that really take the life out of the bench a little bit, out of the whole crowd. It was a scary moment. I haven't seen him yet, but hopefully he's OK."
Staal has returned as one of the team's top defenseman after missing almost half of last season with a concussion.
As one of the anchors of the Rangers' back end, Staal leads Rangers defensemen in scoring with two goals and nine assists in 21 games. He's second in ice time with an average of 24:27 per game.
The Rangers are already without veteran center and fellow alternate captain Brad Richards, who is "banged up" after taking a nasty hit from Buffalo's Patrick Kaleta in the team's 3-2 shootout win on Sunday. Kaleta earned a five-game suspension for the hit.