The Carolina Hurricanes dropped a tough 3-2 decision to the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday night. That result was not their biggest concern from the game.
The concern is the status of defenseman Dougie Hamilton after he exited the game late in the second with what appears to be a nasty leg injury following a collision along the boards.
You can see the play in the video above.
He was unable to put any weight on his leg as he was helped off the ice.
Coach Rod Brind’Amour didn’t have much of an update after the game, simply saying that it “doesn’t look good.”
If Hamilton is seriously injured and has to miss any significant time that would be a massive hole for the Hurricanes to have to try to fill. He has been arguably the best defenseman in the NHL this season and is one of the Hurricanes’ top players in every aspect of the game. He helps drive the offense, he runs the power play, he helps shut down teams defensively, he drives possession, and he is their leader in ice-time. That is not a player you just replace, whether it be internally or from outside the organization.
Huge win for Blue Jackets
As for the game itself, this was a huge game in the Eastern Conference Wild Card race as the two teams entered the game separated by just two points. Columbus’ win, combined with Philadelphia’s loss to Montreal, means that that the Blue Jackets, Hurricanes, and Flyers are in a three-way tie for the two Wild Card spots with 56 points each.
The Florida Panthers, just one point back following their 4-3 win over the Los Angeles Kings, are just one point back of that group with games in hand on all three teams.
The Blue Jackets were able to get the win thanks to a late third period goal from captain Nick Foligno.
Columbus’ recent success is one of the most surprising stories of the 2019-20 season. After losing four key players –including their two best players over the summer in free agency (Artemi Panarin, Sergei Bobrovsky, Matt Duchene, and Ryan Dzingel) they have been one of the most injured teams in the league this season. Even with all of that they are still on a 13-2-4 run over their past 19 games.
Cam Atkinson, their leading goal-scorer from a year ago, had been one of the key players sidelined in recent weeks. He returned to the lineup on Tuesday and recorded two points (one goal, one assist) in the win.
Elvis Merzlikins continued his great play in place of the injured Joonas Korpisalo by stopping 32 out of 34 shots for the Blue Jackets.
Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.