Critical Moment: NHL Referee Injured During Penguins Game

During the game between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Tampa Bay Lightning, a critical moment occurred when NHL referee Steve Kozari collided with Lightning defenseman Haydn Fleury. The collision took place at center ice with just under 14 minutes remaining in the game, resulting in Kozari being stretchered off the ice.

The incident left Kozari motionless on the ice, leading to both teams’ training staffs rushing to his aid. Fleury, on the other hand, managed to skate off the ice and head to the Lightning locker room. Following the game, the NHL released a statement mentioning that Kozari was transported to UPMC Mercy Hospital for precautionary reasons. Fortunately, he was conscious and alert, with full use of his extremities, and was expected to make a full recovery.

Both Pittsburgh coach Mike Sullivan and Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper expressed their concerns about the collision. Sullivan described the incident as a “scary collision” where it seemed like Kozari was unable to break his fall, while Cooper mentioned that it was tough to watch. Both coaches hoped for the well-being of Kozari and Fleury, highlighting the unpredictable nature of the event.

Despite the unfortunate injury, the Pittsburgh Penguins managed to secure a 5-4 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning. Michael Bunting scored the game-winning goal with just over five minutes left in the third period, propelling the Penguins into a playoff spot. Evgeni Malkin had a stellar performance with two goals and an assist, while Sidney Crosby and Kris Letang also contributed goals to the win.

This incident serves as a stark reminder of the physical toll and risks involved in professional sports, not only for the players but also for the officials on the ice. It underscores the importance of player safety and the need for proper protocols in place to address such situations promptly. As both teams continue their respective seasons, the well-being of Steve Kozari remains a top priority, and his recovery will be closely monitored by the NHL community.


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