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Anderson knee sprain adds another injury hurdle for Blue Jackets

Columbus lineup could be without power forward up to four weeks

by Brian Hedger @JacketsInsider / BlueJackets.com

LOS ANGELES - It's a good thing the Blue Jackets stocked up with a couple forwards prior to the NHL Trade Deadline.

They won't have forward Josh Anderson for approximately four weeks because of a knee sprain he sustained late in the third period of the Blue Jackets' 5-1 win against the Washington Capitals on Monday at Nationwide Arena.

"We're hoping to get him back as quickly as possible," Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella said Monday after practice at Toyota Sports Center in El Segundo, Calif. "We'll miss him, but we'll have people that need to fill in and we just need to move by it. Hopefully he'll get healthy and we'll go from there."

Anderson, who's tied with Artemi Panarin for the team lead with 18 goals, was injured on a hip check by Capitals defenseman Dmitry Orlov with 1:47 left in the third period. Anderson carried the puck over the Washington blue line and tried to cut around Orlov to the inside.

The Russian defenseman stepped into him with his hip and flipped Anderson into the air. The 6-foot-3, 221-pound power forward crashed hard to the ice, immediately skated to the bench and headed straight for the locker room for treatment.

Anderson didn't travel with the team to Los Angeles, instead staying back to get his knee examined Tuesday.

Columbus only has 19 games left in the regular season and currently holds the second wild card in the Stanley Cup Playoffs by four points over the New York Islanders and Carolina Hurricanes in the Eastern Conference.

March is also the Blue Jackets' busiest month, with 16 games on the schedule. If Anderson requires the full four weeks to heal, he could miss as many as 13 games. The timing couldn't be much worse, but the Blue Jackets' activity Monday at the deadline should help offset his absence.

Columbus acquired veteran center Mark Letestu from the Edmonton Oilers on Sunday and veteran forward Thomas Vanek from the Vancouver Canucks on Monday, minutes before the deadline passed.

"We're not going to overthink it," Tortorella said. "Our lineup has kind of changed a little bit since the deadline. I think we've added some good pieces to it. Quite honestly, if he was healthy, there's going to be some tough decisions to be made, as far as lineups as we go forward here. When he gets healthy, our back end and forwards, there's going to be some tough decisions. I'm really excited about the push in the lineup, as far as competition for jobs at this time of year. We'll miss 'Andy,' there's no question. He's a really good player. But he's hurt, so we'll just move on."

Vanek, who met his new Blue Jackets teammates at the team hotel Tuesday, has 350 career goals, 388 assists and 738 points in his 13-year NHL career. He had 41 points, including 17 goals in 61 games for the Canucks, so his scoring touch should help Columbus stay afloat.

Based off line rushes in practice, he'll start out on the left wing of the second line, playing with center Alexander Wennberg and captain Nick Foligno, who practiced and is expected to play for the first time since sustaining a lower-body injury Feb. 18 against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Anderson has bounced around the top three lines the past couple weeks, after spending most of the season playing opposite of Panarin on the top line. He's having a great season overall, despite missing all of training camp while negotiating a new contract.

Anderson has 29 points (18 goals, 11 assists) in 61 games. He had 29 points (17 goals, 12 assists) in 78 games last season, which was his first full NHL campaign.

"He's earned his way into playing in all situations on this hockey club," Tortorella said. "His speed, his size, his willingness … he's had a really good year."

The Blue Jackets didn't practice Tuesday. They will practice Tuesday in El Segundo, Calif., and then play the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday at Staples Center (10:30 p.m., Fox Sports Ohio, Fox Sports Go, 97.1 FM).

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