Hurricanes’ Pitkanen suffers scary injury

RALEIGH, N.C. — Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Joni Pitkanen left Tuesday night’s game against the Washington Capitals on a stretcher after suffering an injury when he crashed into the boards late in the second period.

The Hurricanes were calling it a “lower body injury” well after the Capitals left PNC Arena with a 5-3 victory, and video replay suggests it could be pretty bad.

Carolina coach Kirk Muller had little information when he met with the

media moments after the game ended, though he suggested it could be an

ankle or heel injury.

“I don’t know as far as the extent of it

and how long we’re looking at with that,” Muller said. “I haven’t had a

chance catch up with him yet.”

Pitkanen was racing to the puck for an icing call almost side-by-side with Washington’s Troy Brouwer when he crashed into the boards. His right skate planted at the base of the wall and ice while the force of his body continued appearing to almost twist his leg.

The 29-year-old from Finland in his fifth season with the Hurricanes immediately rolled over writhing in obvious pain. Concerned players that were already on the ice quickly gathered nearby watching as the Carolina medical team attended to Pitkanen.

After being treated for several minutes, Pitkanen was taken off the ice on a stretcher to a large applause from the crowd and customary tapping of their sticks by players from both teams. Pitkanen didn’t go to the hospital immediately, however. Team doctors were looking him over at the arena, which is equipped with numerous devices to help teams determine the severity of such injuries.

Pitkanen missed nearly a month earlier this season and has played in just 21 games overall, scoring one goal with eight assists. He has played in 266 career games for the Hurricanes, although he dressed for just 30 last season, which was hampered by a concussion and a knee injury that required mid-season surgery.