By the time Florida goalie Tomas Vokoun boarded the team plane with his head wrapped and left ear stitched up, the shock and confusion of defenseman Keith Ballard's ill-advised actions had worn off.
The Panthers could laugh again.
"It looked a lot more scary than it really was," Vokoun said Wednesday morning, wearing a black ski cap and a white bandage over his ear that was cut in the middle and required more than 10 stitches. "I do have a nasty cut on my ear, but it's not usual for goalies, but players get cut all the time. It's not a big deal to anybody, it's just because it was such a freak accident."
Ballard accidentally hit Vokoun when he swung his stick in frustration after an Atlanta goal Monday night.
Ballard spoke with Vokoun on the flight back to South Florida, apologizing so many times that Vokoun had to tell him to stop. Vokoun, Ballard said, tried to reassure him and laugh off the injury.
"I just felt terrible," Ballard said. "I don't know how many times I apologized and we talked for a bit and he came back and sat with me and we talked for a while longer."
•Maple Leafs goalie Jonas Gustavsson returned to Toronto and is scheduled to see a cardiac specialist a day after he was taken to the hospital with an elevated heart rate. ... The Canadiens traded center Kyle Chipchura to the Ducks for a fourth-round draft pick in 2011. ... The Rangers have claimed forward Erik Christensen off waivers from the Ducks.