TORONTO — Steven Stamkos had a natural hat trick and the Tampa Bay Lightning beat Toronto 5-3 Wednesday night in a game that included a frightening injury to Maple Leafs defenseman Paul Ranger.
Ranger left the ice on a stretcher after his head hit the boards following a first-period hit from Alex Killorn. Ranger was “stable, conscious and alert,” according to the Maple Leafs, after being taken to the hospital for what the team called a “precautionary assessment.”
Toronto announced the update on Ranger’s condition on its Twitter account during the second intermission.
James Reimer gave up a goal on the first shot he faced, and the Maple Leafs lost their third straight.
With 4.1 seconds left in the first period, Killorn boarded Ranger, who went down to the ice and remained there for roughly seven minutes before medical personnel put him on a stretcher and wheeled him off. Ranger moved his legs but not much else after the hit.
Ranger’s teammates huddled around as attention was administered, and several Lightning players remained on the ice and watched from afar.
Killorn was given a 5-minute major penalty for boarding and a game misconduct. The final 4.1 seconds of the period were postponed until after the ice was resurfaced.
Ranger, who used to play for the Lightning, appeared to turn his head before the hit to see Killorn coming. When Killorn finished his check, Ranger’s head struck the glass hard.
The hit immediately led to a scrum in the corner to Reimer’s right. That quickly gave way to trainers helping Ranger.
Ranger, who was dressed for the 48th game this season, has four goals and eight assists. The 29-year-old defenseman returned to the NHL this season after leaving his last team, the Lightning, early in the 2009-10 season.
Stamkos, in his seventh game back after missing four months with a broken right leg, scored his three goals on three shots. Radko Gudas had Tampa Bay’s first goal 59 seconds into the first period from just inside the blue line.
Toronto answered with goals by Phil Kessel, his team-leading 35th of the season, and Nikolai Kulemin. After the Maple Leafs fell behind 4-2, Jake Gardiner scored in the third period, but Toronto could not beat Vezina Trophy candidate Ben Bishop (36 saves) again the rest of the night.