Witt's face injury aggravates nose problem

Updated: October 13, 2003, 5:25 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

Washington Capitals: Defenseman Brendan Witt is expected to miss a week after suffering facial injuries in Saturday's loss to Atlanta. The team also placed defenseman John Gruden on injured reserve with a groin strain, which will keep him out at least seven days.

Witt, who fell face-first into the boards and left in the first period, could miss all four road games this week, leaving the Capitals with just one established NHL defenseman on the roster -- Sergei Gonchar.

Coach Bruce Cassidy said Witt did not suffer a concussion but may have aggravated a preexisting nose problem. He is having trouble in his nasal area and bled severely through his nose after hitting the boards.

Cassidy said he is likely to split up his defensive pairing with Witt gone, separating Gonchar and Joel Kwiatkowski, who had been registering the most minutes on defense.

The Capitals recalled defenseman J.F. Fortin from Portland; he will meet the team in Canada and provide depth while Witt is out. Washington also travels to Montreal, Dallas and St. Louis this week.

Carolina Hurricanes: After spending two games on left wing, Ron Francis moved back to center, where he's spent the last 22 seasons.

Francis, the Hurricanes' captain, moved back to center Sunday as the Canes reworked their lineup in an attempt to ignite an offense that has generated only two goals in two losses.

'Canes coach Paul Maurice will stick with some changes he made late in Saturday's 2-1 loss to New Jersey Devils when the Canes host the Florida Panthers -- 3-1 winners over the Canes on Thursday .

While the grinding, effective second line of Rod Brind'Amour, Erik Cole and Josef Vasicek will stay together, rookie Eric Staal will center a scoring third line with Radim Vrbata and Marty Murray.

Kevyn Adams and Craig Adams will still play extensively, but on the fourth line with Jesse Boulerice. And Francis moves back to the middle on Carolina's top line with Jaroslav Svoboda and Jeff O'Neill.

"It was an experiment and I don't think he was fully comfortable," O'Neill said. "He gave it an honest try but at the end of the day he didn't get his 3,000 points on the wing."

Francis actually has 1,758 points in his career, but none this season.

Columbus Blue Jackets: Trevor Letowski was placed on the injured list Monday. The left wing will miss about six weeks because of a broken pinkie finger.

Letowski was slashed by Rangers defenseman Boris Mironov during Columbus' 5-0 win over New York on Saturday night.

Letowski scored the game's first goal, his first with Columbus since signing with the Blue Jackets as a free agent during the summer.

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