Comeback Kings: L.A. wins third straight, forces improbable Game 7

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The L.A. Kings are in the history books.

On Monday, they became just the ninth team in NHL history to force a Game 7 after falling behind 0-3 in a series, beating San Jose 4-1 at Staples Center in front of a frenzied home crowd.

Though all 60 minutes were action-packed, this one was decided in a four-minute span in the third period. Justin Williams — who had a tremendous night, notching three points — scored what proved to be the game-winning goal at 11:56 when he poked home a loose puck under Alex Stalock’s pads. The goal went to video review, as the puck did appear to disappear out of sight, but the call on the ice stood — and that’s when things went south for the Sharks.

Frazzled, they watched as L.A. scored two more times in the next three minutes. Anze Kopitar notched both for the Kings, his second and third of the playoffs, and that set the stage for a wild final five minutes that included a fight (Logan Couture vs. Mike Richards), a near-fight (Joe Thornton vs. Jonathan Quick — yes, Jonathan Quick) and a grand total of 98 penalty minutes.

With the win, the Kings are now one win away from becoming just the fourth team ever to rally from a 0-3 deficit and win a Stanley Cup playoff series. The others: the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs, the 1975 New York Islanders and the 2010 Philadelphia Flyers — a team that featured two current Kings, Richards and Jeff Carter.

As for the Sharks, they can take solace in the fact they’ve been here before. In the second round of the 2011 postseason, they blew a 3-0 series lead to Detroit before regrouping to win Game 7 in San Jose. Head coach Todd McLellan and his leadership group — captain Joe Thornton, most notably — will likely revisit that scenario in the hopes of avoiding what would be the biggest collapse in franchise history on Wednesday night at the SAP Center.

 

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.