Rivalry Night on NBCSN: Flyers prepare for critical game vs Devils

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Throughout the season, NBCSN will feature the NHL’s fiercest rivalries on Wednesday nights. Tonight the Philadelphia Flyers will head to the Prudential Center for a match against the New Jersey Devils at 7:30 p.m. ET.

Just how big is this game for Philadelphia? Flyers starting goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov thinks their season is as good as over if they lose both games of their home-and-home series against the Devils tonight and Friday.

“Maybe the two biggest games of the season for us,” 33-year-old forward Simon Gagne said. “After that it could be a big difference where we want to be in the standings.”

That’s certainly true, and it’s for the same reason that the New Jersey Devils can’t afford to lose this these contests either. Only four points separate these two squads and while New Jersey has the superior record, they have only the slimmest of leads in the Eastern Conference standings.

“Obviously Philly is playing for their life here and we should have the same mindset,” Devils coach Pete DeBoer said in a Star-Ledger report.

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Since Martin Brodeur’s last game, the Devils are an ugly 2-6-1, although they have recently eked out shootout wins against the Buffalo Sabres and Winnipeg Jets in between a blowout loss to the Carolina Hurricanes.

Brodeur (back) is making progress, however slowly, but in the meantime they need to win some big games like this one without him.

Otherwise teams on the outside looking in like the Flyers will catch up with them before Brodeur has a chance to block another shot.

Probable goaltenders: PHI – Bryzgalov (12-11-1, 2.77 GAA, .899 SV%) | NJD – Johan Hedberg (4-7-2, 2.97 GAA, .879 SV%)

Top scorers: PHI – Jakub Voracek (12-17-29, 27 GP) | NJD – Patrik Elias (8-17-25, 26 GP)

Notable Injuries:
Philadelphia – Forwards: Tye McGinn (eye), Jody Shelley (hip) Defensemen: Marc-Andre Bourdon (concussion), Chris Pronger (concussion)
New Jersey – Forwards: Dainius Zubrus (wrist) Defensemen: Henrik Tallinder (lower body) Goaltenders: Brodeur (back)

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.

Maple Leafs sign defenseman Rasmus Sandin to 2-year deal

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TORONTO — Rasmus Sandin has signed a two-year, $2.8 million contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs, the club announced on Thursday.

The 22-year-old from Sweden was the 29th overall selection in the 2018 draft. Sandin had 16 points in 51 games with Toronto last season. He’s played in 88 career regular-season games, with six goals and 22 assists, and has one goal in five playoff games.

“Got a great set of tools,” fellow defenseman Jake Muzzin said. “With experience, I think they’re only going to get better.”

The signing comes as the Leafs’ blueliners been hit hard by injuries. Muzzin has been dealing with a back issue, and Timothy Liljegren recently had surgery for a hernia.

Toronto then lost Jamie Benn (groin) and Carl Dahlstrom (shoulder) in Wednesday’s 3-0 preseason victory over the Montreal Canadiens, pressing forwards Calle Jarnkrok and Alexander Kerfoot into defensive roles for two periods.