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Andrew MacDonald out 4 to 6 weeks

 Islanders defenseman Andrew MacDonald is out 4 to 6 weeks with a broken right hand.

MacDonald, who sustained the injury during last night's 3-2 OT win over Tampa, flew back to New York this morning and almost immediately underwent surgery.

One of the team’s top young defensemen, MacDonald suffered the injury while killing a penalty during Thursday night’s 3-2 overtime win in Tampa.

With the Islanders down two men, MacDonald blocked a shot from Vinny Lecavalier with his hand. The Lightning did not score on that 5-on-3 power play opportunity.

“[MacDonald] was playing really well for us, especially defensively,” coach Scott Gordon said when reached by telephone. “We’re so fortunate we have the guys we have as far as being comfortable playing them against anyone. For a second-year player to be in there for us on the 5-on-3 [penalty kill] with no hesitation, that says a lot.”

Jack Hillen, who was been a healthy scratch for five of the first seven games, will replace MacDonald in the lineup Saturday against Florida.

“We’re very confident that Jack will step in and pick up the slack,” Gordon said of Hillen.

The third-year coach said he’d like to see more of what he saw in the two games Hillen has played this season—against Washington and Pittsburgh last week while defeneman James Wisniewski was serving a two-game suspension.

“Just with some slight improvements in the transition game,” Gordon said. “We want him getting up in the play and making good reads defensively.”

The news of MacDonald’s injury comes on the heels of several other significant losses to the Islanders already this season.

Both Mark Streit and Kyle Okposo are out with serious shoulder injuries. Rob Schremp has yet to play after suffering a lower back strain in a pre-season game earlier this month. John Tavares missed three games with a concussion, and Josh Bailey is currently out with a hip pointer injury.

Regardless, the Islanders have more than weathered the storm. With their third consecutive win Thursday night, the Islanders find themselves atop the Eastern Conference with a 4-1-2 record and ten points.

“I’d imagine the approach stays the same,” Gordon said.

***** Scott Gordon still has not made a decision on whether forward Josh Bailey (hip pointer) will play tonight. “We’re at the point where maybe he gets through the game fine and never looks back, but if he takes a hit, that could set him back a week or two,” Gordon said.

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