The Capitals managed to rally for a 5-4 shootout win against the Calgary Flames on Thursday in their home opener but lost defenseman Jack Hillen in the process.
Hillen suffered an apparent injury to his right leg or knee after being crunched into the boards by Flames forward Lance Bouma with 8 minutes 10 seconds gone in the first period.
The defenseman went to play the puck along the boards in the Washington zone when Bouma delivered a clean hit that caught Hillen mid-stride. Hillen’s right leg and knee absorbed the brunt of the impact and he crumpled to the ice, unable to put any weight on it after the collision.
Hillen, who was helped off the ice by Alex Ovechkin and athletic trainer Greg Smith, was taken to a local hospital and expected to stay overnight. Coach Adam Oates said Hillen is “going to be out for a bit”. The Capitals will only list Hillen’s condition as a lower body injury.
Here’s video of the hit via CSN, along with the fight that ensued between Tom Wilson and Bouma.
It’s an unfortunate situation for Hillen, 27, who missed 25 games last season after suffering a left shoulder injury in the 2012-13 season opener.
Where Hillen’s injury leaves the Capitals defensive depth is also a concern.
Washington picked up Alexander Urbom, a 6-4, 215 pound left-handed defenseman, off of waivers from New Jersey on Thursday to add size to the organization’s crop of defensive prospects. With only 14 NHL games to his credit, though, it’s unclear if he would be ready to step into a regular role.
Right-handed shot Steve Oleksy is also on the NHL roster and has sat out as a healthy scratch the past two games. But if Oates remains true to form, he will aim to fill Hillen’s spot with a lefty. Dmitry Orlov, Nate Schmidt and Cameron Schilling would seem to be the top left-handed candidates for a call up in Hershey.