WINNIPEG — Jets center Bryan Little, who entered Thursday as the team's second-leading scorer, is out for the rest of the season with a fractured vertebrae suffered on a hit by Lightning defenseman Anton Stralman last week, coach Paul Maurice said Thursday.
"It was a significant amount of force that caused the compression fracture," Maurice said. "We're going to miss him greatly."
The hit occurred in the second period of the Feb. 18 game as Little was carrying the puck toward the Lightning blue line. Little stumbled, lost the puck and dropped his head. Stralman collided with him, the defenseman's shoulder hitting Little high.
Little remained on the ice for a little while before leaving. Stralman wasn't penalized, but Blake Wheeler started a fight with him shortly after the hit. The Jets were angry about the hit, Maurice so much so that he eventually was ejected after clashing with the officials.
Stralman said there was no way he could avoid the hit. He wasn't disciplined by the league.
Little, who has 42 points and was tied for the team lead with 17 goals, hasn't played since. He is expected to recover in about eight weeks, Maurice said.
Chicago begins loading up for Cup repeat: Wing Andrew Ladd, a member of the Blackhawks' 2010 Stanley Cup championship team, was traded back to Chicago from the Jets, along with forward Matt Fraser with defenseman Jay Harrison, for forward Marko Dano, Chicago's first-round draft choice this year and a conditional pick in 2018. Ladd, 30, spent three seasons and 184 games with the Blackhawks (37 goals, 99 points) before being traded to the Thrashers (who then relocated to Winnipeg) as the Blackhawks purged salary after the '10 Cup win.
Ladd likely will play on the left side of Chicago's top line, filling a giant hole created by the trade of Brandon Saad to the Blue Jackets last summer. Andrew Shaw had done a solid job in the role, but the trade moves him down to a lower line and creates more balance.
Game highlights: Nick Foligno had his second career hat trick and added an assist to lead the host Blue Jackets to a 6-1 victory over the Devils. Reid Boucher scored for New Jersey, which lost for the fourth time in five games. Seeking a career-high 27th win, goalie Cory Schneider, who entered with a league-low 2.06 goals-against-average, gave up three goals on 11 shots in the first period. He was replaced by Keith Kinkaid to start the second period, and Kinkaid gave up three more goals on the 13 shots he faced. … Pierre-Edouard Bellemare scored the go-ahead goal early in the third period and Michal Neuvirth made two stellar saves late, helping the Flyers open a six-game homestand with a 3-2 victory over the Wild. Mark Streit and Sam Gagner also had goals for Philadelphia, which won for just the fourth time in 11 games. The Flyers entered Thursday five points out of a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, but they needed to leap over five teams.
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First Period—1, Columbus, Foligno 7 (Calvert), 5:20. 2, Columbus, Foligno 8 (Calvert, Karlsson), 8:12. 3, Columbus, Saad 23 (Karlsson, Calvert), 19:13. Penalties—Tootoo, NJ, major (fighting), 8:18; Campbell, Clm, major (fighting), 8:18; Dubinsky, Clm (holding stick), 10:14; Foligno, Clm (holding), 13:03.
Second Period—4, New Jersey, Boucher 5 (Zajac, Severson), 1:38. 5, Columbus, Foligno 9 (Savard, Karlsson), 13:32. 6, Columbus, Dubinsky 14 (Foligno, Murray), 18:47 (pp). Penalties—Dubinsky, Clm (boarding), 4:38; Blandisi, NJ (hooking), 17:37.
Third Period—7, Columbus, Bourque 3, 18:59. Penalties—Prout, Clm (interference), 4:55; Gionta, NJ (tripping), 9:22. Shots on Goal—New Jersey 7-13-6—26. Columbus 11-7-6—24. PPs—New Jersey 0 of 4; Columbus 1 of 2. Goalies—New Jersey, Schneider 26-20-6 (11 shots-8 saves), Kinkaid (0:00 second, 13-10). Columbus, Korpisalo 11-7-4 (26-25).
First Period—1, Philadelphia, Gagner 4 (Schenn), 18:45. Penalties—Streit, Phi (interference), 15:42.
Second Period—2, Minnesota, Vanek 18 (Spurgeon, Reilly), 2:02 (pp). 3, Philadelphia, Streit 5 (Read, Voracek), 5:46 (pp). 4, Minnesota, Granlund 7 (Vanek, Porter), 13:16. Penalties—Schultz, Phi (holding), :56; Carter, Min (holding), 3:51.
Third Period—5, Philadelphia, Bellemare 4 (VandeVelde, White), 3:21. Penalties—Couturier, Phi (hooking), 13:45. Shots on Goal—Minnesota 10-10-6—26. Philadelphia 14-11-6—31. PPs—Minnesota 1 of 3; Philadelphia 1 of 1. Goalies—Minnesota, Dubnyk 21-21-5 (31 shots-28 saves). Philadelphia, Neuvirth 14-7-4 (26-24).