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Florida Panthers defenseman Keith Ballard(notes) was rather upset after Ilya Kovalchuk(notes) scored for the Atlanta Thrashers at 8:54 of the first period Monday night.

Unfortunately for goalie Tomas Vokoun(notes), Ballard's coping mechanism of choice was a baseball swing at the goal cage that instead landed on the side of the Florida keeper's head.

An off-the-TV clip is also on YouTube. Vokoun was taken off the ice on a stretcher, suffering through obvious pain. The Associated Press reports, via a Panthers spokesman, that the goalie "had a laceration to his ear but was alert when he was placed in an ambulance and taken to a local hospital."

If you feel like you've seen a less severe version of this scenario play out before, congratulations: Your memory stretches all the way back to May 2009, when Slovakian winger Tomas Surovy ka-bonged teammate and Montreal Canadiens goalie Jaroslav Halak's(notes) head after their team surrendered the eighth goal in a 8-0 loss to the Czech Republic at the world championships.

Of course, there's a world of difference between an aggressive tap on the top of the mask and Ballard's wallop to the side of Vokoun's head. Stretchers have a way of sucking the funny out of these situations.

Thanks to Jeffler for the video.

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