MONTREAL — The first win of the Islanders’ nine-game road trip was well-earned but costly.
Casey Cizikas will miss about a month with an upper-body injury, believed to be a broken left hand, suffered in the second period of Tuesday’s 3-1 win over the Red Wings, according to a league source.
Cal Clutterbuck also left Tuesday’s game after the second period as a precaution for the same lower-body injury that had kept him out the previous nine games, though he may skate with the team on Thursday here before the Islanders face the Canadiens.
The Islanders called up veteran minor-leaguer Bracken Kearns from Bridgeport while placing Shane Prince (upper body) on injured reserve, a swap that took place before Cizikas was diagnosed since Kearns had to get to Montreal in a hurry.
The 35-year-old Kearns leads the Sound Tigers with 18 goals and 22 assists and would likely play alongside Stephen Gionta and Nikolay Kulemin on a very different sort of fourth line than the Islanders have deployed this season.
Cizikas suffered the injury while attempting a shot just past the 14-minute mark of the second period. Detroit defenseman Niklas Kronwall got his stick on Cizikas’ stick and it appeared to jam Cizikas’ left hand awkwardly. He went straight to the dressing room, then went home to Long Island on Wednesday morning to be evaluated.
Clutterbuck called his spate of related soft-tissue injuries “annoying” on Tuesday morning, hoping that the worst was behind him — he had missed 13 of the previous 17 games and only played parts of two others with continued setbacks.
Tuesday brought another one, much to Doug Weight’s chagrin.
“I’m tired of saying it and it’s a tough thing for him, but it’s precautionary,” Weight said after Tuesday’s win. “He played four minutes in the first, spread out nice, four minutes in the second, spread out nice again and then we take a couple penalties. He’s banging out those hard, 30-second shifts and I just pulled him. Something’s going on and we’ll see.”
Weight was encouraged by the way his team played down to 10 forwards in the third period on Tuesday, but Thursday here and Saturday in Columbus against the big, physical Blue Jackets will be different games than Tuesday’s.
With their forward depth strained, perhaps it’s good that next Wednesday’s trade deadline is fast approaching. General manager Garth Snow was already believed to be on the hunt for another forward, preferably a top-nine player. Cizikas’ injury may accelerate Snow’s talks, which have not had much traction in a market where sellers’ demands have been sky high so far.