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Kesler (sprained knee) out ‘at least a couple of weeks’

Minnesota Wild v Vancouver Canucks

VANCOUVER, BC - FEBRUARY 28: Ryan Kesler #17 of the Vancouver Canucks is pictured while playing against the Minnesota Wild during the second period of their NHL game at Rogers Arena on February 28, 2014 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. (Photo by Ben Nelms/Getty Images)

Ben Nelms

The knee injury Ryan Kesler suffered during Wednesday’s win over Winnipeg will keep him out of action for the foreseeable future, according to Canucks head coach John Tortorella:

Ryan Kesler has a sprained knee and is out “at least a couple of weeks” said Torts. #Canucks

— Vancouver Canucks (@VanCanucks) March 14, 2014

Kesler was hurt after colliding with Jets forward Jim Slater late in the second period, immediately left the ice and didn’t return:

Slater received a tripping penalty on the play.

As for Kesler and the Canucks, the injury couldn’t have come at a worse time. The center has been remarkably healthy this season, appearing in 67 of 68 games after missing nearly two-thirds of the ’13 campaign with a shoulder injury and broken right foot.

The 29-year-old leads Vancouver in goals this year, with 22, and is averaging 22:08 TOI per game -- most among all NHL forwards.

As such, the Canucks will have a remarkably difficult time filling his void in the lineup...a troubling development, given they were already without the services of Daniel Sedin and are fighting for their playoff lives in the Western Conference. Heading into Friday’s play, they sit four points back of Dallas for the final wild card spot, and are in danger of missing the playoffs for the first time since 2008.