Mats Zuccarello‘s first game as a Dallas Star started off fantastic. The 31-year-old forward assisted on the Stars’ opening goal during their 4-3 win over the Chicago Blackhawks Sunday afternoon. He would later add a cherry on top of his offensive debut with his 12th goal of the season to give Dallas a 3-0 lead early in the second period.
The good feelings about Zuccarello then went sour later in the period.
Zuccarello, who was acquired Saturday from the New York Rangers, left the game late in the second period after a blocking a shot. Following the game, the Stars announced that he would be returning to Dallas to be examined and the early assessment is that he will miss at least four weeks.
Zuccarello told reporters afterward the “upper-body” injury is his arm and there’s a possibility that it’s broken. Once he’s examined this week they’ll have a better of idea of whether he needs surgery and if/when he can make a return. And as if that injury news wasn’t enough, the team also lost captain Jamie Benn with an upper-body injury. He’s considered day-to-day.
It’s a brutal blow for the Stars who are in the midst of chasing the third spot in the Central Division while also holding on to a Western Conference wild card spot. They have 13 important games in the next four weeks, and they will miss not having a Zuccarello in their lineup.
This tough injury news now makes you wonder how much more active Stars general manager Jim Nill will be before Monday’s 3 p.m. ET trade deadline. If Zuccarello returns in four weeks, Dallas will have seven games left in the regular season. Considering how the bottom of the West has played out so far, those seven games will likely be incredibly important for their playoff hopes.