MONTREAL — It was such a dramatic event that Pavel Buchnevich was still emotionally recovering four days later.
The Rangers winger was set to miss his second straight game, Thursday night here against the Canadiens, after he was in a car accident in Brooklyn on Sunday. Around 8:30 p.m., Buchnevich was a passenger in his own Porsche, driven by fellow 24-year-old Russian, Igor Shesterkin. A car in front of them pulled an illegal U-turn, and they slammed into that car and then hit a parked SUV.
Shesterkin suffered a non-displaced rib fracture, set to keep him out “a couple weeks,” but Buchnevich was physically unharmed. He missed Tuesday’s wild 4-3 overtime win against the Islanders at the Coliseum, but skated on his own Wednesday and then skated here with his teammates during an optional morning skate Thursday.
He declined to speak to the media, but had posted a short statement on Instagram on Wednesday night.
“Hi Rangers fans. I just want to say thank you for all the nice [messages] you sent for me and Shesty,” he wrote. “We love the support you have given us. We are feeling better and will be back on the ice soon.”
Then an hour later, he added: “One more thing — [use] the seat belt. It really helps!!”
Coach David Quinn has had his ups and downs with the mercurial Buchnevich, who had been playing some of his best hockey over the past month. But this went beyond the rink, and Quinn was empathetic about the mental recovery process.
“He’s in a lot better place now,” Quinn said. “As much as I think he was physically scarred by it, he’s been emotionally scarred by it. It gives you a cold dose of reality when you go through something like that. You feel so fortunate. He’s getting back to his old self, and he’ll be back on the ice soon.”