In an emotional postgame press conference from Joe Pavelski, it became apparent that whatever the outcome of the game between the Stars and Chicago Blackhawks would’ve been would’ve taken a backseat to the well-being of Tanner Kero.
The Stars won the game, a 4-3 overtime victory in front of a sellout crowd of 18,532 at American Airlines Center, but it was the raw emotion from Pavelski that showed how much Kero means to his teammates – and how much his injury affected them.
“It’s terrible,” Pavelski said, fighting back tears. “I’ve been there before. My teammates rallied around me that night. Tanner is awesome. He’s soft-spoken, but he shows up and works hard. He doesn’t miss a day. When he gets called on to play, he shows up and makes sure to play. He plays hard. He’s a great teammate. I heard he’s doing all right.
“This win is definitely for him. You just say your prayers and wish for a speedy recovery.”
Kero was injured on his opening shift when he received a blindside hit from Blackhawks forward Brett Connolly. It was a dangerous play resulting in a five-minute major for interference and a game misconduct. Trainers and medical staff assisted Kero, who needed to be stretchered off the ice. Benches from both teams were empty, with the Stars huddling around Kero as he remained on the ice while being assisted by medical personnel.
Shortly after he was taken off the ice, an update on his status came through. Kero was conscious, alert and responsive, and was transported to the hospital for precautionary measures and evaluation.
“It’s very upsetting to see your player – any player – laying on the ice like that,” Stars coach Rick Bowness said to reporters after the game. “It gets emotional. They’re part of your family, and you see them injured. It’s very difficult. I saw him moving his feet and arms, so that was good. We got good news right away he was responsive.
“That’s hard for all the players on both sides. You saw both teams out on the ice kneeling. We all play the game hard, we all play the game with physical passion and emotion. That’s what we love about the game. You just hate to see when that happens. It’s emotional.”
John Klingberg scored the game-winning goal in overtime on the power play, his first of the season.
Pavelski scored twice on the five-minute major, while Jason Robertson added another goal in the second period. Jake Oettinger made 20 saves on 23 shots on his 23rd birthday.
Courtesy Kyle Shohara