Injury bug takes third bite

STEVE MACFARLANE -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 8:43 AM ET

DALLAS -- Worse than the disappointing record are the losses in manpower the Calgary Flames have experienced since leaving town almost two weeks ago.

During yesterday's 3-2 loss to the Dallas Stars, Marcus Nilson became the latest road-trip casualty when he got tangled up with Brenden Morrow in front of the Stars net just six minutes into the first period.

After what looked like a knee-on-knee collision, Nilson -- aside from goaltender Marty Turco the lone player in the Stars zone -- struggled to get to his feet and was eventually helped up and off the ice when play stopped.

Flames GM/head coach did a body count after the game.

"We lost three players on this trip," said Sutter.

"We lost Mike Leclerc right away. He was a pretty important guy. We lost Darren McCarty. And now we lost Marcus Nilson."

Leclerc's wrist injury is thought to be serious, although the team hasn't disclosed anything since the power forward was hurt after scoring in Edmonton during the road swing debut.

McCarty played every game but the finale in Dallas but back trouble kept him out of a few practices.

Nilson was on crutches after the game and travelled home with the team. The seriousness of his knee injury will be known in a couple of days.

With Nilson lost so early in the game, others had to pick up the slack in the loss.

"Some of the kids that hadn't played much played a lot tonight," said Sutter, who was pleased with his team's effort.

But the long-term implications are more dire.

Nilson is one of the team's best defensive forwards, as he proved with a great shot block on Mike Modano in the opening minutes yesterday.

"He's a big part of our team as far as speciality teams, checking -- and he's gotten some big goals for us and been on big plays all year," said Flames captain Jarome Iginla after the game.

Defenceman Andrew Ference says others will have to shine in Nilson's absence. Just as they have had to do all year while dealing with a handful of serious injuries already this season.

"Losing anybody ... we really need everybody on this team," said Ference.

"A guy like Nils is obviously a big loss. It's just a matter of other guys stepping up and filling their shoes and trying to make up for what we miss in him."


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