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Blackhawks lose center Artem Anisimov to apparent ankle injury

This leaves a big hole in Chicago’s lineup.

The Chicago Blackhawks’ playoff depth took a big hit on Tuesday when center Artem Anisimov limped off the ice with an ankle injury.

Anisimov was closing out the final seconds of the first period by battling for a puck in his own zone. His tussle with Montreal Canadiens winger Alexander Radulov didn’t end well: Radulov lost his footing and fell on the back of Anisimov’s legs.

The best guess at this point is that Radulov awkwardly twisted (or broke) Anisimov’s ankle during the fall. Anisimov remained on the ice in clear pain while trainers tended to him. When he left the ice, he didn’t put any weight on his affected leg.

A long-term injury to Anisimov would leave Chicago perilously thin down the middle. Marcus Kruger or rookies Tanner Kero and Nick Schmaltz would have to fill in as the team’s second-line winger in the playoffs, leaving the Blackhawks with a significant talent gap at the center position.

In 63 games this season, Anisimov has 22 goals and 44 points.