See what happens when the sticks are high?

Published Mar. 30, 2012 2:37 p.m. EDT

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Like many players in the NHL these days, Minnesota Wild defenseman Tom Gilbert wears a shield on his helmet to protect his eyes.

So imagine Gilbert's surprise when he found a stick pressed up against his face Thursday during the Wild's game with the Florida Panthers. In the third period, Panthers forward Kris Versteeg swiped at a loose puck and his stick caught Gilbert, who was skating in front of Versteeg. The stick lodged in Gilbert's helmet, giving the Wild player an unexpected ornament.

The incident happened so fast that Gilbert didn't even know what had happened.

"That is a first," Gilbert, 29, said Friday. "I didn't know what was going on, to be honest with you. I thought a stick went through my visor or something."

Gilbert immediately went to the ground, the stick protruding from his helmet. But he wasn't injured. The shaken Gilbert got to his knees, with the stick going across his face diagonally and his nose pressed up against the shaft. He was able to take off his helmet, and a member of the team's staff pried the stick free.

Versteeg was called for a high-sticking penalty on the play, which caused the game to be  delayed for only a few minutes.
Gilbert was unaware how long the stoppage lasted.

"I don't even know, to be honest with you," he said. "I am sure it was awhile because I couldn't get my helmet unstrapped. I couldn't even find it."

Sarah Servetnick contributed to this report.

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