News and notes from around the NHL this evening:
- Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Nikita Zaitsev suffered an injury tonight in a game against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Columbus captain Nick Foligno hit Zaitsev just as time expired in the first period, and Zaitsev left the ice awkwardly. The young defenseman tried to return in the second before leaving again. The Leafs hope the injury is not serious as they are close to signing Zaitsev to a seven-year deal.
- Making matters worse for the Toronto Maple Leafs, defenseman Roman Polak also went down with an injury tonight. Polak collided with Blue Jackets’ Boone Jenner in front of the Toronto net and labored back to the bench. He soon after left the bench and went to the dressing room. Polak’s injury leaves Toronto with only four defensemen for the rest of the game. And while this game has no impact for the Blue Jackets, the Maple Leafs’ playoff position depends on whether they gain a point tonight. One point will move the team to 3rd in the Atlantic and set to face the Ottawa Senators. If Toronto fails to gain a point, they will play the Washington Capitals as the second wild card seed.
- Carolina Hurricanes forward Bryan Bickell plays his last NHL game tonight as the Hurricanes take on the Philadelphia Flyers. Bickell was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis and just recently made his return last week. He announced yesterday that he will retire at season’s end. Bickell will finish his career with 66G and 70A in 394 games, and three Stanley Cups with the Chicago Blackhawks.