Blue Jackets defenceman Zach Werenski to miss remainder of playoffs

John Tortorella wasn’t too happy after Zach Werenski was taken out of the play by a Phil Kessel shot to the mouth that lead to the Penguins tying the game.

If the Columbus Blue Jackets are to overcome a 3-0 series deficit and pull off an improbable comeback against the Pittsburgh Penguins, they’ll have to do it without Zach Werenski.

The standout rookie defenceman will miss the remainder of the post-season with a facial fractures, Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella told reporters Monday morning.

Werenski took a puck to the right side of his face Sunday after deflecting a shot from Phill Kessel during the second period of a crucial Game 3. Werenski fell to the ice bleeding. However, the play was never blown dead because the Penguins had possession of the puck and as Werenski was slowly making his way to the bench the Penguins scored to tie the game at 3-3. Pittsburgh ended up winning in overtime.

The 19-year-old was eventually able to return to the game wearing a full cage, but wasn’t able to participate in overtime because he could no longer see due to the swelling around his eye.

Werenski shared a photo of himself on social media following the game.

It ain’t pretty.

Tortorella was impressed with the courage Werenski showed by returning briefly despite his injury.

Maple Leafs star Auston Matthews, a close friend of Werenski’s, told reporters in Toronto Monday he reached out to his former USA Hockey National Team Development Program teammate and that he wasn’t surprised to see him back on the ice after some repairs.

“Just shows the kind of guy he is,” Matthews said. “Popped right back up and kept playing.”

Werenski had scored his first career Stanley Cup Playoffs goal earlier in the game. The eighth-overall pick from the 2015 NHL Draft is coming off an impressive rookie campaign where he led all first-year blueliners with 47 points in 78 games. In fact, only 12 defenceman in the entire league had more points than the Grosse Pointe, Mich., native.

Game 4 takes place Tuesday at Nationwide Arena. Fans can watch it on Sportsnet 360 starting at 7:30 p.m. ET.

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