Midway through the second period of the Hurricanes' clash with the Southeast Division-rival Tampa Bay Lightning, Cole fell awkwardly after being cross-checked by defenseman Dan Boyle.
The injury could sideline Cole up to three months, a team official said.
Cole has scored 14 goals in his second NHL season, and was scheduled to skate in the 2003 NHL YoungStars game in Sunrise, Fla., on Saturday.
Cole, 24, is tied for third on the Hurricanes' goal-scoring list with veteran center Rod Brind'Amour, who was placed on injured reserve on Jan. 21 after undergoing hand surgery.
Cole emerged as a key member of the Hurricanes in his rookie season, playing in 81-of-82 regular-season games and taking the ice for all 23 games of Carolina's run to the 2002 Stanley Cup Finals. He tallied six goals and three assists during the playoffs.