DETROIT - Adam Burish jerked his hands to his throat, expecting to feel blood gushing out like a horror movie climax or one of the frightening scenes that have played out on NHL ice rinks.
Instead, wearing a white button-down shirt with no red stains, Burish laughed about the close call from a skate that scraped his throat in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals against the Red Wings. Only a thin pink line was visible beneath his scraggly brown playoff beard.
"Extra padding," he said of the neck-saving scruff.
Had the skate been a few hairs closer, the potentially serious incident would have made the Blackhawks' 5-2 loss seem meaningless.
In the second period at Joe Louis Arena, Blackhawks winger Ben Eager was upended against the boards. As he flipped, Burish saw the blade moving toward his neck but didn't have much time or room to move completely out of the way.
"When it happened I was scared," Burish said. "I wasn't sure my head was still connected to my body. I just sat there and was like, 'Oh man, am I lucky.' "
Burish's neck had a red smear of blood after the cut, but he required no stitches and played the remainder of the game.
Like anyone watching the replay as Burish grabbed his throat, memories of similar but more critical scenarios flooded the mind, including Burish's memory.
Most infamously, in 1989 Sabres goaltender Clint Malarchuk nearly died when his jugular vein was severed by the St. Louis Blues' Steve Tuttle. He received 300 stitches. He returned to the ice four days after the event that sickened onlookers.
Last season, Florida's Richard Zednick lost five units of blood and underwent an hour of surgery after teammate Olli Jokinen's skate nearly severed his carotid artery in a game against Buffalo. Blood stained the ice and the game was delayed nearly 15 minutes after the gruesome slashing.
Burish is familiar with the 2006 injury to then-teammate Rene Bourque, who missed a few weeks after undergoing surgery to repair a deep laceration when the blade of the Blue Jackets' Nikolai Zherdev's skate caught him during a pileup in the Blackhawks' crease.
"It was millimeters from slicing me," Burish said of Sunday's incident. "I grabbed my neck and thought something's coming out here. It was just a couple of drips."
Eager was unaware that his skate nicked Burish, wide-eyed when asked about his involvement.
"That's scary," said Eager, who headed to the dressing room to ask Burish about it.
Burish was far more concerned about the Hawks' performance than the cut on his neck.
He scored his third goal of the playoffs on an unassisted shot a little more than five minutes into the game to provide the Blackhawks with a 1-0 lead. But they never led again.
"Our start was awesome," Burish said. "The first 10 minutes, that was about as good of a start as we've had in the playoffs. We got away from it."
After Burish assured himself he was uninjured, he said he had no problem shaking off the scare. He figured someone else he knows had a harder time with it.
"It's probably harder for my mom to shake if she was watching on TV," he said. "I didn't check my phone. I'm sure she's been calling."
(c) 2009, Chicago Tribune Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.