General manager Jim Rutherford disclosed the severity of Pitkanen's injury Wednesday.
Pitkanen was hurt with 1:57 left in the second period of a 5-3 loss to Washington on Tuesday night. He raced down the ice while trying to beat an icing call and went hard into the boards with the Capitals' Troy Brouwer near him.
He was on the ice in obvious pain and was taken off on a stretcher with his hands covering his face.
The Hurricanes say he broke his left calcaneus bone and is expected to be out 10-12 weeks.
Pitkanen has one goal and eight assists in 22 games for the Hurricanes, who have lost nine of 10.