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Andre Burakovsky of Capitals to miss 4-6 weeks

Washington forward sidelined with injury to right hand, out until at least mid-March

by Tom Gulitti @tomgulittinhl / Staff Writer

ARLINGTON, Va. -- Washington Capitals forward Andre Burakovsky will be out until at least mid-March with a right hand injury, coach Barry Trotz said Friday.

Burakovsky was injured blocking a shot from Detroit Red Wings defenseman Brendan Smith in the first period of a 6-3 win Thursday. Burakovsky, who turned 22 Thursday, left Verizon Center with his right hand and wrist wrapped.

Trotz would not say if Burakovsky broke any bones in his hand but said the injury, which will keep him out of the lineup for 4-6 weeks, would not require surgery and he should return in time for the final push before the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"He'll have plenty of games to get back," Trotz said.

The Capitals have lost an NHL-low 19 games because of injury or illness this season.

Burakovsky has 11 goals and 18 assists in 51 game and was playing well since returning to the lineup following three games as a healthy scratch from Dec. 13 to Dec. 17, getting nine goals and 10 assists in 25 games.

"It's part of the game," Trotz said of Burakovsky's injury. "It's part of the process. You can't control that. People get hurt in this game. We've been very fortunate not to have a lot of injuries. It will be a good test."

Video: WSH@MTL: Burakovsky roofs Connolly's great feed

With Burakovsky out, rookie Zach Sanford will fill his spot at right wing on the third line with Brett Connolly and Lars Eller against the Anaheim Ducks at Verizon Center on Saturday (7:30 p.m. ET; CSN-DC, FS-W, NHL.TV).

"It will be an opportunity for [Saturday] for Zach," Trotz said. "It will be an opportunity for guys and it will give us a little adversity to go through, and for Andre, he had started to ramp it up and when he comes back he's going to be fresh and he's going to be excited."

The Capitals (38-11-6), who lead the NHL with 82 points, have won five in a row and 11 consecutive home games. They begin their bye week after their game on Saturday and don't play again after that until they visit Detroit on Feb. 18.

Trotz said it's also possible the Capitals will recall rookie forward Jakub Vrana, who had one goal and two assists in 13 NHL games earlier this season, at some point.

"We're going to let Zach have that first crack at it [Saturday] and then we'll go from there," Trotz said. "But we haven't really made any long-term decisions. The only decision that we made is Zach will go right in that spot [and] the lines will stay relatively the same."

Sanford, 22, has one assist in 20 NHL games with the Capitals and nine goals and five assists in 24 games with Hershey in the American Hockey League. He was recalled Wednesday because some of the Capitals forwards were dealing with bumps and bruises but did not play Thursday.

"No one likes to see a teammate or anyone get hurt, but I think this will be big for me to hopefully step in and keep playing well and help the team keep winning," Sanford said.

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