Maple Leafs captain John Tavares leaves Game 1 vs. Canadiens on stretcher


TORONTO — Maple Leafs captain John Tavares was taken off the ice on a stretcher after a collision early in Toronto’s first-round playoff matchup with the Montreal Canadiens Thursday.

The 30-year-old centre crashed into Montreal’s Ben Chiarot 10:29 into the first period and was hit in the head by Corey Perry’s knee as he fell.

Trainers and doctors from both teams rushed to the ice and attended to the veteran forward before he was taken away, encouraging him to stay on the ice as he struggled to get up.

Tavares gave a thumbs up as he left on a stretcher.

He had 50 points (19 goals, 31 assists) in 56 regular-season games this year.

Thursday’s game kicks off the first-round playoff series between the two North Division teams. It’s the first time since 1979 that the Leafs and Habs have met in the playoffs.