TORONTO – Carl Gunnarsson managed one additional shift of 51 seconds after separating his left shoulder.
"I was pissed off," he explained. "I was mad at myself for letting [myself] get injured; I didn't protect myself the way I should have. I just wanted to go out there and keep playing, but it turned out I couldn't do it."
The 25-year-old is done for the season after being crunched by Sabres forward Marcus Foligno in the opening seconds of the Leafs 6-5 overtime loss in Buffalo on Tuesday night. Gunnarsson will require four to six weeks for recovery, ending his third NHL season while making a return trip to the upcoming World Championships – which take place in his native Sweden and Finland in May – unlikely.
Gunnarsson was admittedly upset about the play in question because he felt the collision was avoidable. He noted seeing the six-foot-two, 215-pound Foligno charging in on around the goal, but took an extra split second to make a play, allowing the Sabres 20-year-old to deliver the thunderous hit.
"Situations similar to that happen a lot during the season," he said. "That was just a bad move by me. I usually come out of it in a good way, try to spin off the guy and take the hit in the right way, but this time I didn't do it and I've got to pay for it."
Surgery was ruled out after the game, but Gunnarsson will visit with doctors on Wednesday afternoon for further evaluation. A member of Team Sweden at the past three World Championships, he was hopeful but not optimistic about a return trip in May.
"We'll see what the management says," he said of the Worlds, "if they want me [on] the team, if they're willing to take a chance, depending on how long it's going to take for it to heal so I have no idea."
Joining Dion Phaneuf on the Leafs top defensive pairing, Gunnarsson averaged nearly 22 minutes a night, totaling five goals, 19 points and a minus-9 rating.