Mikhail Sergachev had surgery in New York on Thursday to stabilize fractures to his left tibula and fibula, and the Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman will miss "significant time," coach Jon Cooper said.
Sergachev was injured in the second period of a 3-1 loss to the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday and needed to be stretchered off the ice.
He is expected to return to Tampa in the coming days to begin rehabilitation.
"He's going to miss significant time," Cooper said before the Lightning lost 6-2 at the New York Islanders on Thursday. "And significant meaning the regular season. So we're going to have to find a way to get by without him.”
As for when Sergachev could return, Cooper said, "We'd have to go [far in the Stanley Cup Playoffs]."
Sergachev's left leg appeared to bend awkwardly while he was attempting to make a hit on Rangers forward Alexis Lafrenière along the right boards at 7:00 of the second.
"Oh man, why me?" Sergachev said on Instagram. "Why now? After all the games missed, coming back and getting injured again, feels unfair, feels terrible. Trying to stay calm and positive, but it's impossible. I know I'll come back stronger and I know I'll play better than before, but it's tough right now, and it's [going to be] tough tomorrow. We all fight our battles and this is mine. I'll win, always do.
"Just wanted to let people that care about me know! I appreciate all of your messages. Thanks to the medical staff."
The defenseman was in audible pain immediately following the collision but gave the crowd a thumbs-up as he was being taken off the ice, where he was met by Cooper.
"Sergachev's always going to be with us," Cooper said. "Just not on the ice right now. Unfortunately, it's been tough for him because, I think, he's missed 17 games prior to that. And we're a better team when he's in the lineup. We're somehow going to have to find a way. We've done it in the past, but now, there's a little more certainty. We're really going to have to do it now."
Sergachev, who has 19 points (two goals, 17 assists) in 34 games this season, was playing his first game since Dec. 19 after missing 17 games because of a lower-body injury.
“You feel sick to your stomach," Tampa Bay captain Steven Stamkos said after the game Wednesday. "Obviously, ‘Sergey’ has put in a lot of time and effort to come back from his original injury, and to see something pretty traumatic like that happen from someone who has been through that, it's tough. Tough to watch.”
Defenseman Victor Hedman agreed.
“It's super tough," he said. "Obviously, been through it with a few other guys in the past, but ‘Sergey,’ first game back after missing an extended period of time, to see him in such pain, it's hard. You feel for him and you just pray for the best, but obviously it's not looking good.”
NHL.com senior writer Dan Rosen and independent correspondent Stefen Rosner contributed to this report