Richard Zednik, middle, is helped to the bench by Jassen Cullimore (22) while a trainer tends to his wound. ((John Hickey/Associated Press))

The Florida Panthers returned to practice at home on Tuesday morning while teammate Richard Zednik remained in a Buffalo hospital where his condition was upgraded to good.

They may seem back to business as usual, but the Panthers are no doubt still haunted by the ghastly vision of Zednik, who was previously in the intensive-care unit, being taken from the ice on Sunday night.

The hockey world is still reeling from the incident, which could have killed the 32-year-old winger if not for life-saving treatment at HSBC Arena and Buffalo General Hospital that reconnected his carotid artery, which supplies the head and neck with blood.

Zednik's neck was cut open in the third period of a game against the Buffalo Sabres after teammate Olli Jokinen was upended and his right foot skate went into Zednik's path. Moments later, Zednik kneeled forward with his hands at his throat, blood coming from his neck.

He made his way to the bench, where trainers and teammates helped him.

"It's hard to say what would have happened under other circumstances, but clearly, the care he got initially by the staff at the arena, I think, saved his life," said Robert McCormack, the hospital's chief of emergency medicine.

The 7½-centimetre laceration barely missed Zednik's jugular vein, which takes blood from the brain, but cut his carotid artery. Zednik remained conscious throughout the incident, even as he lost five units of blood.

In the end, doctors said the only effect would be some "hoarseness."

Zednik suffered no long-term brain or nerve damage, and could be discharged as early as this weekend, though he will have to sit out the rest of the season.

Dr. Sonya Noor, who performed the one-hour surgery at Buffalo General, chalked up the success to a generous helping of good fortune.

"He's with his wife upstairs.They're talking, and we're just very, very happy. We were all lucky last night, not just Richard," Noor said. "He actually asked me when he could go back to training."

Zednik had been playing some of the best hockey of his career before the accident, racking up nine points (six goals, three assists) in the four games leading up to Sunday's contest.

Forward Rob Globke was called up from the Rochester Americans of the American Hockey League to replace Zednik.

With files from the Associated Press