Peca concussed, Nash defends hit

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 9:04 AM ET

The pre-game talk was all about Rick Nash's ankle.

Then, 2:36 into the first period the focus shifted to his shoulder - the one that knocked Michael Peca out of the game last night with a mild concussion and some dental damage.

Peca got caught admiring his dump-in early in the first period and Nash hit him late, with the elbow a little high. Peca stayed down on his hands and knees before leaving the ice in a fog.

"It looked late," said Edmonton coach Craig MacTavish, who wouldn't go so far as to say it was dirty. "It looked like he was watching his pass a little bit. He didn't see him, obviously. It looked like a shoulder to me, moreso than an elbow."

Peca didn't return to the game and will not be on the charter flight to Detroit this morning.

"Bad timing for that with the team coming on," said MacTavish. "But we'll pick somebody up and get him to Detroit."

Nash, in his first game back after missing the last eight games with a high ankle sprain, said he had no choice but to lower the boom.

"It's a tough play, you don't like to make those hits," said the six-foot-four, 215-pounder. "He was coming through the middle with his head down, I'm sure if I was coming through the middle with my head down anybody would do the same to me.

"But if I don't make that hit, everybody on the team is going to be looking at me, the coaches are going to be looking at me ..."

Overall, a 5-1 defeat is a tough way to mark your return.

"It was pretty embarrassing effort from our team," said Nash. "It's the players' fault."

STEVIE NIXES JACKETS: Steve Staios must be getting the hang of those new rules. After starting the season slowly, with one point in the first nine games, he has five in the last four games and improved his plus-minus rating to a team-high plus-10 with a plus-2 last night.

"I think as a team we're just playing better," he said. "Personally I haven't changed anything. I think as a team we're being a lot more responsible, we've got everybody clicking."


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