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Did Brooks Orpik play with a concussion late in overtime?

Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik (44) checks Boston Bruins center David Krejci (46) during the second period in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals in the NHL hockey Stanley Cup playoffs, in Boston on Wednesday, June 5, 2013.

Elise Amendola/AP

He had eight hits on the night and now sits second in the playoffs with 65 after two and a half rounds of play.

But Boston Bruins winger Milan Lucic's biggest contribution in that department may have come deep in overtime of Game 3 on Wednesday night, when he rattled Pittsburgh Penguins defenceman Brooks Orpik's head into the end glass.

Afterward, Orpik held himself up using the boards and appeared to be gathering his bearings.

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"He was really stunned," NBC colour man Pierre McGuire said.

That was nine minutes into double overtime, and Orpik quickly retreated to the bench. But he didn't miss a shift and was back on the ice two minutes later, forgoing a trip to the quiet room.

Three shifts after the hit, however, Orpik was one of the goats on the Bruins winner, as he allowed Patrice Bergeron more than enough room to tip in Brad Marchand's pass after more than 95 minutes of hockey.

"You feel like you let 19 guys down," Orpik said afterwards. "It's not a good feeling."

It was exactly the kind of play that makes getting tough on head injuries so difficult, as it was a must-win game for the Penguins and Orpik is their third most valuable defenceman behind only Kris Letang and Paul Martin.

He also wasn't down and out, staying on his feet and making his own way off the ice.

Any trip to the dressing room, in other words, would have been against his will.

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That's why, if these decisions are left up to the teams, their coaches and individual players, the hittee won't ever take a breather to be properly assessed during a game, will play with a potential concussion and potentially do even more damage by doing so.

And only league intervention could really force teams to make these calls in situations like this.

(As an aside, all of this seems particularly relevant on the day that Andy McDonald announced his early retirement due to postconcussion issues.)

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Hockey Reporter

James joined The Globe as an editor and reporter in the sports department in 2005 and now covers the NHL and the Toronto Maple Leafs. More

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