Wildly bad night: Minnesota loses, won’t get Koivu back for at least two weeks

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From the Los Angeles Kings perspective, Tuesday’s game gives reason to believe that the team might just be the same contender-turned-underdog in their conference as the Washington Capitals could be in the East. Jeff Carter didn’t power the attack, but the bottom line is that a 4-0 win is exactly what they were looking for.

Of course, a big victory often requires a victim and the Minnesota Wild are in a bad way right now. Despite out-shooting the Kings 26-15, the falling squad frequently looked like a team that is fading from the playoff picture.

Technically, the Wild aren’t totally out of the mix since they’re just five points removed from the three-way tie for eighth place* and Sports Club Stats still gives them a 4.5 percent chance at a berth.

Even so, I must admit that Mikko Koivu’s injury situation kinda feels like last season in that it might sound the death knell for Minnesota’s playoff hopes once again. (They faded in 2010-11 thanks in part to his injury.)

The team announced that their versatile captain will miss at least two more weeks with whatever exactly is bothering him. Koivu will then be re-evaluated by team doctors. I hate to say it, but there might not be much motivation to push him back into action if he ends up making progress by that mid-March target.

The Kings are still outside the West’s top eight and very well might miss the postseason, but it was tough to shake the feeling that the Los Angeles-Minnesota matchup featured a serious playoff contender and a team whose best moments are long gone.

* – The Kings (10th), Colorado Avalanche (ninth) and Dallas Stars (eighth) are currently joined at 70 points.

Senators goaltender Cam Talbot out 5-7 weeks with injury

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OTTAWA, Ontario — Ottawa Senators goaltender Cam Talbot is expected to be out five to seven weeks with what the team called an upper-body injury.

The Senators initially called Talbot day to day with what they hoped was a minor injury. Instead he’s now expected to miss at least the first month of the NHL season.

Ottawa claimed goalie Magnus Hellberg off waivers from the Seattle Kraken upon announcing Talbot’s expected absence. Hellberg, who played for Sweden at the Beijing Olympics could split time with countryman Anton Forsberg while Talbot is out.

The Senators acquired Talbot from Minnesota during the offseason to make him their starter after the Wild opted against bringing him back along with Marc-Andre Fleury. Talbot, 35, had a 2.76 goals-against average and .911 save percentage this season.

Losing Talbot is a blow to the Senators, who also acquired winger Alex DeBrincat from Chicago and signed longtime Philadelphia Flyers captain Claude Giroux as part of a move toward contending and ending their playoff drought.

Blackhawks’ Boris Katchouk sidelined by ankle sprain

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CHICAGO — Blackhawks forward Boris Katchouk will be sidelined for four to six weeks with a left ankle sprain, the team announced.

The 24-year-old Katchouk played almost 12 minutes during a 3-0 preseason loss to Detroit on Saturday night. He was acquired in a multiplayer trade with Tampa Bay in March.

The Blackhawks open the season on Oct. 12 at Colorado.

The team also said forward Jujhar Khaira is day to day with a right ankle injury.

Ducks’ Urho Vaakanainen crashes into boards, leaves on stretcher

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ANAHEIM, Calif. — Ducks defenseman Urho Vaakanainen was taken off the Honda Center ice on a stretcher after he crashed into the end boards in the first period of Anaheim’s preseason game against the San Jose Sharks.

The Finnish defenseman was conscious and alert with full movement in his extremities at UCI Medical Center, the Ducks said.

The frightening incident occurred midway through the opening period when Vaakanainen smashed into the boards at a dangerous speed behind the Sharks’ net. Vaakanainen appeared to be concentrating on the pass he had just made to Derek Grant, who scored the Ducks’ opening goal on the assist.

Vaakanainen’s teammates came onto the ice and gathered around him as he was taken away on the stretcher.

The Ducks acquired the 23-year-old Vaakanainen from Boston last March in the deal that sent longtime Ducks defenseman Hampus Lindholm to the Bruins. After recording two assists in 14 games for the Ducks last season, Vaakanainen is attempting to win a top-six role on Anaheim’s defense this fall.

Lightning donate $2 million to Hurricane Ian relief efforts

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TAMPA, Fla. — The Tampa Bay Lightning and team owner Jeff Vinik are donating $2 million toward Hurricane Ian relief efforts.

The NHL team announced that $1 million each will be donated by the Tampa Bay Lightning Foundation and the Vinik Family Foundation.

“This is a tragic situation for many families and communities across the state of Florida, but especially so in the southwest region of the state,” Vinik said in a statement released by the team. “In times like these the most important thing we can do is support one another, and we hope this donation will help families recover and rebuild in the months to come.”

Ian made landfall Wednesday on Florida’s Gulf Coast, south of the Tampa Bay area. The Lightning postponed two home preseason games and moved the club’s training camp to Nashville, Tennessee, during the storm.