With just about 15 seconds left in the first period of Tuesday’s contest between both teams, Backes appeared to catch Nielsen on the chin with his shoulder after Nielsen attempted to pass the puck to one of his teammates in an effort to clear it from the Detroit zone.
The hit seemed to twist Nielsen’s neck, which caused him to lose balance and fall to the ice where he remained motionless for a few moments before he left the game with some minor assistance from a Red Wings trainer and did not return.
Backes was assessed a two-minute minor penalty for roughing on the play.
“It’s an unnecessary hit to the head,” Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg said of the play after the game, a 6-5 overtime loss for Detroit.
At the moment, it’s unclear what Nielsen’s status will be like for the Red Wings as they attempt to finish off what has been a disappointing season strong.
The impact of whatever disciplinary action the league decides against Backes could also be quite large. Boston is still trying to catch the Tampa Bay Lightning for the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference, while trying to fend off the No. 3-seeded Toronto Maple Leafs.