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Blue Jackets move on without Sanford, Wisniewski

by Brian Hedger
COLUMBUS -- Sunday's 3-2 shootout victory in Calgary didn't come without an injury price to pay for the Columbus Blue Jackets.

A little more than 12 minutes into the game, starting goalie Curtis Sanford had to exit with a lower-body injury and top-pair defenseman James Wisniewski left after getting hit in the face with a puck.

Neither will play on Tuesday night at Nationwide Arena, when the Jackets host the Chicago Blackhawks for the sixth and final time this season, and Sanford is probably finished for the season with a torn leg muscle, according to Columbus coach Todd Richards.

"Sanford is more than likely done for the year," Richards said. "He's got a slight tear of his ... uh, the doctor told me the name of it, but I can't tell you. I don't have any muscle, so I don't know what it is. But it's a leg muscle and he tore it, so he's more than likely done for the year."

As for Wisniewski, who was hit on the right cheek with a shot in the third period and left the game, there's no timetable for a potential return just yet.

"There's no fracture, but flying home he started getting symptomatic with concussion-like symptoms," Richards said. "Today we told him to stay away from the rink. He'll come in today and meet with the doctor and we'll go from there."

Columbus recalled defenseman David Savard to take Wisniewski's spot. He didn't arrive in time to participate in the team's morning skate, but could find himself in the lineup right away.

Sanford, meanwhile, will have the best numbers on the team if his season is indeed over. He's got a 2.60 goals-against average and a .911 save percentage. Sanford, who battled nagging injuries on and off this season, left a good impression on Richards with his resiliency.

That's why he felt obliged to say something to Sanford on the team bus in Calgary heading back to the airport.

"He was on crutches, so he sat up at the front of the bus," Richards said. "I just turned to him and said, 'You've had some bad luck this year.' And really, that's what it's been ... [he got] a real opportunity to play and when he has played, he's played really well for us and given us a chance to win games. There were probably two or three games tops where he hasn't been at his best. Other than that, in all of the starts he's given us a chance and kept us in games."

His reward for it is another vexing injury and the chance to come back again next season and try to win himself a spot in the NHL again.

"It's another one of those things where he's fighting for a contract next year, fighting for a spot next year whether it's here or somewhere else," Richards said. "These players want to play and play in these type of games, so it's frustrating for him, disappointing for him and disappointing for us as an organization."

Richards did provide a little more comic relief, however, when a reporter wondered if the muscle he couldn't remember might've been Sanford's quadricep.

"No, a quadricep I would know," Richards said, smiling. "I would remember that one. That's one of those big muscles that ... I do know they exist."
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