ARLINGTON, Va. -- Washington defenseman Tom Poti has been ruled out for Game 7 Wednesday (7 p.m. ET, VERSUS, TSN, RDS) against Montreal with an eye injury, and the best-case scenario has him missing most or all of the second round should the Capitals get there.
As a result, the Capitals recalled Karl Alzner from Hershey of the American Hockey League on Tuesday and it's likely he will be paired with rookie John Carlson against the Canadiens in the do-or-die game.
Alzner and Carlson, who played the first six games of the series on Poti's right side, were a defensive tandem in Hershey for most of the AHL season.
Poti was struck in the right eye by Michael Cammalleri's backhand shot during a penalty kill late in the second period on Monday. He skated off the ice while the puck was still in play and went straight to the dressing room. He obviously did not return.
"It's a pretty significant injury," Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau confirmed without going much further into detail.
Poti did fly home with the Capitals after Game 6 and was at the doctor's office Tuesday while the team was practicing at Kettler Capitals Iceplex at noon. Capitals defenseman Mike Green said Poti needs surgery.
It is unclear whether Poti's injury is career threatening. He was not wearing a visor.
"I don't know right yet, but it could be two to three weeks or it could be longer," Boudreau said of the time Poti could miss.
The loss is a major blow to the Capitals. Poti was averaging over 21 minutes of ice time per game against the Canadiens and was a major part of the Capitals' penalty kill, which is 81.5 percent (22-for-27) in the series. He had 4 assists and was a plus-9 in the series.
"Tom Poti has been great," Boudreau said. "You lose one of your best, experienced players. It's a tough thing, but look, this is the playoffs and you lose players. People come in and it's a chance to be a hero. That's what hockey is all about. It's a battle of attrition after a while when you play a team seven times."
Alzner is going to get that chance. He was up with the Capitals during the playoffs last season but never got into a game. He played in 21 regular-season games in 2009-10 and had 5 assists. He has played in 51 NHL games, totaling a goal and 9 assists.
A second-year pro, Alzner, who was the fifth pick of the 2007 Entry Draft, has a goal, 4 assists and a plus-4 rating with Hershey in the Calder Cup playoffs. He helped the Bears eliminate Bridgeport in five games and get up 2-0 on Albany in the East Division Final.
"(Poti) is one our top defenseman and it's going to hurt," Carlson said before anyone knew Alzner was being re-called. "I think that we've gotten some good chemistry together over the past few games, but that's playoff hockey and that stuff happens every year, it seems like, with injuries, people are banged up. It's just the nature of the game."
Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl