Blackhawks defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson can't talk, will play Game 3 on Tuesday

Tuesday May 6th, 2014

(Bill Smith/Getty Images) Niklas Hjalmarsson returned to the ice for his next shift despite getting hit in the throat. (Bill Smith/Getty Images)

Blackhawks defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson was hit in the throat with the puck on a shot attempt in Game 2 of Chicago's playoff series against the Wild on Sunday.

Though the 26-year-old still can't speak, he will play Game 3 Tuesday night, Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said after his team's morning skate, according to Scott Powers of

"He's fine, but he's unable to speak right now," Quenneville said. "But he's ready to go."

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Hjalmarsson, who leads the NHL with 30 blocked shots in the playoffs, including four in Game 2, wore a protective neck guard Tuesday morning in Minnesota. He also had two assists in Game 2, his second and third in the postseason after scoring four goals with 22 assists in the regular season.

The seven-year veteran may have some trouble in Game 3 without his voice, Quenneville said.

"Obviously you like to talk to the goalie playing it, your partner, whether he's got an out or you're the out, sometimes that can be beneficial," Quenneville said. "We always want to say communicate on the bench, make sure we're talking as well."

Added fellow defenseman, linemate and Swede Johnny Oduya: "He's a Swedish Viking. He's one of a kind obviously. It's good for morale. We know he's always out there doing his job.

Chicago leads the series 2-0 and has won six straight playoff games.

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