BOSTON (KDKA/AP) — Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik was taken off the ice on a stretcher after being pulled down and punched by the Bruins’ Shawn Thornton in the opening period during their game Saturday evening in Boston.

According to the Pittsburgh Penguins, Orpik was taken to Massachusetts General Hospital. He is alert and conscious at the hospital.

During his post-game press conference, Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma said Orpik will travel back to Pittsburgh with the team tonight. He also says the defenseman was knocked out when his head hit the ice.

Earlier, Orpik was in a scrum with a few Penguins players with Boston’s Gregory Campbell in the Pittsburgh defensive end of the ice with 8:54 left in the period.

Boston’s Brad Marchand was injured on the other end and Thornton came skating up quickly from center ice and grabbed Orpik from behind, knocking him down backward before throwing a punch. Orpik appeared to hit his head on the ice when he fell. Thornton was given a match penalty.

Players immediately called for medical assistance for Orpik. He was surrounded by members of both team’s medical staffs before he was taken off on a stretcher after about a 10-minute delay.

Pittsburgh’s James Neal was assessed a kneeing penalty for his hit on Marchand.

In the game’s opening minute, Orpik hit Boston’s Loui Eriksson with his shoulder near the winger’s head as he turned to move up the ice.

Eriksson was stunned and went to the bench dazed before heading to the dressing room with a trainer taking one arm to help his balance as he got up from the bench.

A few minutes later, the Bruins announced in an injury update that he “would not return.”

“From what I saw, I thought the hit was pretty clean. If they want to make it a point to go after him and finish their hits and play tough on him because he did that, I think [Orpik] is more than willing to take care of himself, but I don’t think there’s any room for that,” said Penguins’ captain Sidney Crosby. “I think [Milan] Lucic ended up getting in a fight with [Deryk Engelland] shortly before that, so I think that they sent the message to their team that they’re going to stick up for each other, but that kind of took it a little far.”

A few seconds after Orpik’s hit on Eriksson, Boston captain Zdeno Chara charged at the defenseman and drew a cross-checking penalty.

Boston forward Milan Lucic also fought the Penguins’ Deryk Engelland midway into the period.

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