Washington Capitals defender who suffered 'broken skull' and 'severed ear' shares details about missing Ovi's moment as he nears return

Matt Garland
March 18, 2023  (8:01)

The Washington Capitals have been without a staple of their blue line star, defenseman John Carlson since December 23 when the veteran blueliner took a slapshot directly to the head from Winnipeg Jets rearguard Brenden Dillon.

Carlson immediately left the game, bleeding profusely on the ice. He has not played a game since, leaving the team without their number one defenseman for 34 games and counting. Months after the injury, Carlson has finally inched towards recovery. He accompanied the team for part of their western road trip, and began to practice with the team in a no-contact jersey last week.
The booming drive from the point struck Carlson in the side of the head, leaving him with a small skull fracture above his right ear and a severed temporal artery. Despite the severity of his injuries, he says that did not lose consciousness and escaped the injury without a concussion.
«I just got struck by lightning,» Carlson told El-Bashir, «That's the only way to describe it. It was bleeding so much. The only way I could describe it is, just survival.»

The injury proved too severe for in-arena medical care to treat. As a result, Carlson was taken to the hospital after the game, remaining overnight.
Carlson's injury meant he missed long time teammate and captain Alex Ovechkin's empty-net goal that night, the 802nd of his career. The legendary tally pushed him past Gordie Howe into second place on the all-time goal-scoring list.
While the Capitals bench emptied and players swarmed Ovi on the ice, Carlson had to experience that moment on a stretcher as he was wheeled into an ambulance.
«I couldn't see anything but I could hear it,» Carlson said. «At that point, I kind of had my bearings. At first, it sounded like a normal goal but the roar didn't stop. Then I hear (Ovi's goal) song and I know what's happening."

«Then you start feeling sorry for yourself,» he added, «It's a big day for the Caps, for Ovi. I'm injured and it sucks.»

The slapshot lacerated Carlson's artery, leaving a scar near his ear. Carlson's wife Gina recounted back in January that her husband's ear had to be partially reattached, likely due to the severed artery.
«With your ear back on 🙈, you came home from the hospital & did it all,» Gina Carlson said on Instagram. She later added, «Your strength doesn't even come close to your heart and the husband and dad you are.»

Washington have felt not having their 23 minutes a night top defender in their lineup. Over Carlson's 34-game absence, they've played below .500, with a record of 14-17-3. The Capitals are in a tough position to make it, they're five points back of the final Wild Card position with twelve games remaining.
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Washington Capitals defender who suffered 'broken skull' and 'severed ear' shares details about missing Ovi's moment as he nears return

Do you think the Capitals will make the playoffs?

Yes, with the greatest goal scorer it's possible29827 %
No, missing Carlson and not as good of a team80773 %
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