The New York islanders' 4-1 win over the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden may have been a costly one.
Anders Lee took a Johnny Boychuk shot off the leg in the first period, and after sticking it out for another shift, he didn't return to the game.
That's unfortunately nothing new to the Islanders, who have lost a series of players to in-game injuries over the last month of the season. But while players like Calvin de Haan and Casey Cizikas have returned quickly, early fears are that Lee may be out long term.
Coach Jack Capuano did not sound optimistic after the game Thursday night, and Newsday's Arthur Staple dug deeper to find a mood of concern about Lee's injury:
Capuano tells @Shannon_Hogan that "first indication on Lee is not good." #Isles— Brian Compton (@BComptonNHL) April 8, 2016
Hearing it's very bad news for Anders Lee -- possible fractured leg. #Isles planning further tests tomorrow.— Arthur Staple (@StapeNewsday) April 8, 2016
Cross your fingers. Staple had updates in Newsday on several other injured Islanders players, but losing Lee would be a major blow.
The big winger provides a skillset that the Islanders can't easily replace: A large, difficult-to-move presence in front of the net (particularly on the power play) with the hands to deflect pucks from the point and finish in tight. At least on the power play, chances are Brock Nelson would be placed in Lee's role in front of the net. Nelson has had some success in that spot before, but he is not the same physical presence and immovable goalie shadow as Lee.
It would be ironic if he had to miss significant playoff time thanks to an injury doing what he does best -- standing in there amid bombs from the likes of Boychuk and Ryan Pulock -- but alas, such is hockey.
Cruel, evil, irresistible hockey.