Vancouver might begin the Stanley Cup playoffs without leading goal-scorer Daniel Sedin, while Chicago faces the possibility of a few games without top defenceman Duncan Keith, who may be suspended for elbowing the Canucks winger.
Sedin will be stuck on 30 goals for the foreseeable future after the Canucks announced Thursday he would be out of action indefinitely after being injured late in the first period of Wednesday's 2-1 overtime loss in Chicago.
Canucks assistant general manager Laurence Gilman said Sedin is returning to Vancouver to be further evaluated by team medical personnel.
Keith, not known for controversial hits, received a minor penalty on the play and soon could be handed the first suspension of his NHL career.
The damage, however, could be much worse for the Canucks, who with 95 points (43-21-9) have a 10-point lead over second-place Colorado in the Northwest Division with two games in hand.
The loss of a top-line offensive player for a significant period could be devastating come playoff time in the tightly contested Western Conference.
The Keith-Sedin incident took place nearly 14 minutes into the first period after Daniel Sedin had earlier finished a high hit against the Chicago blue-liner. Vancouver defenceman Alex Edler also sent Chicago forward Andrew Shaw to the ice before Keith's retaliation.
"I'm not trying to hurt anybody," Keith told reporters after the game. Sedin didn't return after being hit. "I hope he's OK. He's one of their best players. He needs to be on the ice.
"The puck was up in the air, from what I remember. I'm trying to close my gap and have a good gap on him. Right at the last second, he moves forward and I don't know where the puck is."
Canucks head coach Alain Vigneault had a different reaction to the play.
"You didn't see the puck near the hit," he said. "The league will do what they have to do."
On Wednesday, the NHL suspended Shane Doan of the Phoenix Coyotes three games for an elbowing fellow Dallas Stars forward Jamie Benn the night before, a hit some say had similarities to the play in Chicago.
Doan, unlike Keith, is a repeat offender.
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