MONTREAL Montreal Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty sustained a fractured vertebrae and severe concussion after being rammed into a rinkside post by Boston Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara, the NHL team said Wednesday.
The collision occurred with seconds remaining in the second period of the Canadiens' 4-1 win Tuesday when Chara rode Pacioretty into the boards, slamming his head into the glass partition at the end of the players' bench.
"Max Pacioretty has a severe concussion, as well as a fracture of the fourth cervical vertebrae, but it's not displaced," Montreal coach Jacques Martin said in a statement on the Canadiens website (canadiens.nhl.com/).
"Max will remain at the hospital for further observation. There will be no other prognosis for the time being, but he will obviously be out indefinitely.
"The most important thing for our organization right now is Max's recovery."
Pacioretty lay motionless on the ice for several minutes before being loaded on a stretcher and rushed to a Montreal hospital where he remained overnight.
Chara was given a five-minute major for interference and a 10-minute game misconduct penalty.
The incident was not the first between the two players.
After scoring a game-winning goal against Boston on January 8, Pacioretty skated behind the Bruins' net in celebration and gave Chara a push on the way by, inciting a scrum.
The NHL reviewed the incident Wednesday and ruled that Chara did not intend to injure Pacioretty.
"After a thorough review of the video I can find no basis to impose supplemental discipline," Mike Murphy, the NHL's senior vice president of hockey operations, said in a statement.
"This hit resulted from a play that evolved and then happened very quickly -- with both players skating in the same direction and with Chara attempting to angle his opponent into the boards.
"I could not find any evidence to suggest that, beyond this being a correct call for interference, that Chara targeted the head of his opponent, left his feet or delivered the check in any other manner that could be deemed to be dangerous."
(Writing by Steve Keating in Toronto; Editing by Steve Ginsburg)