Corey Perry (Getty Images)
Minnesota Wild defenceman Keith Ballard delivered a clean, punishing hip check on the Anaheim Ducks’ Corey Perry Friday night. Then he had to defend himself for it.
Clean, hard hits have become the new no-no in today’s NHL. Hit a guy too hard – or hit a guy who’s too important – and you’d better be prepared to defend yourself.
Perry was trying to slip past Ballard along the boards when Ballard lowered the boom and hammered him up against the wall, catching him between strides and knocking him off balance. Perry's left leg came up on the hit as he toppled over Ballard and hit the ice hard.
Perry pushed his way to his feet and struggled to leave the ice after the whistle blew and a scuffle broke out behind him. He appeared to be favouring his left knee and did not return to the game.
The Perry injury seemed to disorient the Ducks, as they coughed up a three-goal lead and allowed four against before a Tim Jackman tally stopped the bleeding.
Anaheim won the game 5-4.
The Ducks tweeted after the game that Perry's injury isn't serious and he's expected to travel with the team to Winnipeg for Sunday's game.
If Perry does miss games with the injury it’ll be his second time sitting out this season. He missed five games in November with the mumps.
The gritty Ducks forward has been incredibly durable throughout his career, having missed only three regular season games due to injury over the last five seasons.
He’s actually spent more time serving suspensions than nursing injuries during that period. He was suspended for four games in 2013 for a hit on the Wild’s Jason Zucker.
Perry currently leads the Ducks with 14 goals and 22 points 23 games this season, despite playing seven fewer games than most of his teammates. His 22 points put him second only to team leader Ryan Getzlaf.
The 32-year-old Ballard is in his second season with the Wild. He has one assist in 13 games, and has been in and out of the Minnesota lineup since he signed there as a free agent two summers ago.
Ballard didn't play much in October but saw regular work in November, with his ice time topping out at 21:18 in a Nov. 15 contest against Dallas.
He played only 8:34 on Friday against the Ducks and finished with a minus-1 rating.