BOSTON (AP) – Brian Leetch will be out for the next month after the Bruins defenseman was diagnosed with a strained knee ligament on Wednesday.

Leetch injured the medial collateral ligament in his right knee Tuesday night when he collided with Islanders forward Shawn Bates during the second period of Boston’s 4-3 overtime loss. Leetch, who walked gingerly after the game wearing a small brace, was examined Wednesday by Dr. Bertram Zarins at Massachusetts General Hospital. The 37-year-old defenseman, in his first season with the Bruins, had never had a knee injury since entering the NHL in 1988. His first occurred with about three minutes left in the middle period as he and Bates went for the puck.

, and collided.

Leetch spent his first 17-plus NHL seasons with the New York Rangers. The Bruins signed him to a one-year, $4 million contract this summer.

He has three goals and five assists in 14 games this season. In 1,158 regular-season games – all but 29 with New York – Leetch has 245 goals and 759 assists.

Leetch ranks seventh on the career points list among NHL defenseman and sixth among American-born players at any position with 1,004. He will miss his first chance to face the Rangers at Madison Square Garden on Nov. 20.

Also Wednesday, the Bruins recalled defenseman Milan Jurcina and right wing Eric Nickulas from their AHL affiliate in Providence.

AP-ES-11-02-05 1826EST

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