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Paul Ranger injury: Maple Leafs defenseman taken off on stretcher after Alex Killorn hit

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Alex Killorn was ejected and could face additional discipline after hitting Paul Ranger from behind, sending him head first into the boards.

Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Paul Ranger had to be taken off the ice on a stretcher late in the first period on Wednesday night after he was hit from behind by Tampa Bay Lightning forward Alex Killorn.

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Killorn received a five-minute major for boarding as well as a game misconduct for the hit that occurred with just four seconds remaining in the period. Ranger was down on the ice for several minutes and appeared to be alert as he was being tended to by trainers.

The Maple Leafs later announced that Ranger was taken to a hospital for precautionary assessment and that he is stable, conscious and alert.

The combination of the hit itself -- even if Ranger turned prior to contact, it's still a bad hit. You can't drive a guy into the boards like that from behind -- and the fact that Ranger was injured likely means that Killorn will face additional discipline. Here is what Killorn said after the game about the hit, via Michael Traikos of the National Post.

"Kind of a scary moment — kind of commit to hit someone without knowing that they’re gonna turn. I’m trying to think of what else I could have done.You think what could I have done, looking back, to prevent that.  But it’s tough. It’s just such a bang-bang play."

Ranger has appeared in 48 games for the Maple Leafs this season and scored four goals to go with eight assists.

Killorn does not have a history of discipline and in his two years with the Lightning has been assessed just 54 penalty minutes in 106 games.