UNIONDALE, N.Y. (AP) - New York Rangers centre Jamie Lundmark sprained his knee in the second period of a 4-2 victory Thursday night after a knee-on-knee collision with Michael Peca that got the New York Islanders captain ejected.
Lundmark had just passed the puck as he approached the red line and was met head-on by Peca, who had his leg outstretched. Lundmark was caught with his legs apart.
"I know on the play I didn't stick my leg out," Peca said. "He was planted on his skates. I just tried to finish my check."
Peca's leg met Lundmark's and the Rangers forward crumpled to the ice. Lundmark was down for several moments after play was stopped in the Islanders' end.
A scrum broke out in front of the Islanders' net with Bobby Holik trying to get at Peca as Lundmark was attended to by the Rangers' medical staff.
"I know him," Holik said. "I didn't need to look at it to know that it was dirty."
Lundmark was not able to put full weight on his right leg as he left the ice midway through the period. He has a second-degree sprain of his right knee and will be re-evaluated on Friday.
"We'll find out (Friday) but he has a ligament problem for sure," said an angry Glen Sather, the Rangers coach and general manager.
Lundmark was playing his fourth straight game after missing the previous three as a healthy scratch.
"What Peca did to Lundmark is not called for," Sather said.
Lundmark said he wasn't in much pain after the game because his knee had been numbed by ice. He spoke in hushed tones and sat alone for a bit in the dressing room.
Lundmark reserved comment on whether the hit was dirty because he said he hadn't seen it.
"I don't know what position I was in or he was in," Lundmark said. "I saw him coming but you can never get your whole body out of the way."
Sather saw it clearly on replay and intends to send a tape into the NHL office.
Peca was given a major penalty for kneeing and a game misconduct that carries an ejection. The Rangers scored twice during the advantage to build a 3-0 lead.
"I am going to ask the league to look at it - intent to injure," Sather said. "I would take those two goals back to have Lundmark's knee fine."
In the 2001 playoffs, Peca was felled by a hit from Toronto's Darcy Tucker, who low-bridged him with a questionable check that didn't draw a penalty. Peca hurt his knee, an injury that knocked him out of that series and sidelined him for six months - well into the start of last season.
"From a guy who's had a knee-to-knee hit, I understand the reasoning of the officials," Peca said of the penalty. "You have to protect the players. But I saw the replay, and in this case, I think it was an incorrect call."
Peca was already playing with a bit of an edge after being challenged by Islanders general manager Mike Milbury on Wednesday to perform better. Peca has not scored in 12 games and the team is on a seven-game losing streak.
"We've got all-star forwards that have scored so few goals it's unthinkable," Milbury said.
Peca's name has recently come up in trade rumours in this his third season with the Islanders. Milbury threatened that if things didn't turn around quickly, major changes could be the next step.
"If we can't get through this, there's no choice," Milbury said. "Something's got to give, somebody's got to go. Anybody."
Courtesy: TSN & Associated Press