Brooks Orpik leaves on stretcher after punch from Shawn Thornton

By Chris Peters | Hockey Writer

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Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik left Saturday night's contest against the Boston Bruins on a stretcher. He was injured after a confrontation with Bruins forward Shawn Thornton in a scrum after Brad Marchand appeared injured after a bad hit from James Neal.

The game had been chippy from the get-go with tempers flaring, but took a turn for the worst after Neal clocked Marchand with a knee to the head while Marchand was kneeling on the ice.

In a separate scrum immediately following Neal's hit, Thornton then went after Orpik and dragged him to the ice, throwing a few punches with a gloved hand while Orpik was down. Orpik appeared to be in some serious trouble on the ice, not moving before being attended to by medical personnel.

For a closer look at the incident:

Orpik was surrounded by athletic trainers and doctors from both teams on the ice and a stretcher came out rather quickly. He was taken off the ice, presumably to a local hospital.

Thornton received a match penalty for his attack on Orpik. Neal was assessed a minor for kneeing. Marchand remained in the game.

Thornton had tried to engage Orpik in a fight earlier in the period after a big hit from Pens blueliner that knocked Bruins forward Loui Eriksson out of the game, but Orpik declined. There was no penalty called on Orpik for the open-ice check on Eriksson.

This infraction will definitely draw the attention of the league and could lead to a lengthy suspension for Thornton. This is an outright attack on Orpik that had seemingly disastrous results. There's no place for this in the game or anywhere for that matter.

According to the Penguins, Orpik was transported to Massachusetts General Hospital where he is alert and conscious.

UPDATE: According to Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma, Orpik returned from the hospital and will travel with the team back to Pittsburgh. Bylsma also confirmed that Orpik was unconcious on the ice, but did not have a prognosis on the defenseman.

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