‘We definitely use it as confidence,’ says Johansen after Predators down the Kings

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It all depends on how the remainder of the regular season plays out, but Monday’s game between the L.A. Kings and Nashville Predators could’ve been a preview of a potential first-round playoff series.

The Predators have made a strong push down the stretch drive and that includes this most recent 5-2 win over the Kings. Ryan Johansen score once and add two assists, as Nashville was able to fend off a third-period comeback attempt from L.A.

Jonathan Quick was pulled after he allowed three goals — all in the second period, including Filip Forsberg‘s 30th of the season — on 27 shots.

“Well, Jonathan’s going to play every game for us, so hopefully he can play the whole game,” said Kings coach Darryl Sutter, as per LA Kings Insider.

For the Predators, who are 6-2-2 in their last 10, could they perhaps be a dark horse entering these playoffs?

There are five teams in the West — Dallas, St. Louis, Chicago, L.A. and Anaheim — you could put ahead of the Predators as being favored to go on a lengthy playoff run. But since the middle of February, the Predators have been on a consistent run of positive results, including that 14-game point streak.

They also sport the league’s fourth best Corsi For rating (52.6 per cent) at even strength and the fifth best Scoring Chance rating at plus-204 at even strength.

One of their areas of concern throughout this season, or at least prior to the All-Star break as pointed out by The Tennessean, has been the goaltending of Pekka Rinne, whose personal statistics are down from last season. (He had a .923 save percentage in 2014-15 and is down to .910 in 2015-16). He did stop 28 of 30 shots faced Monday.

But a win over the Kings could also give the Predators an additional boost as the regular season closes down in the next few weeks.

“It’s very special,” Johansen told NHL.com.

“We’ve got a lot of young bodies in this room. I think when they go home tonight, they’re going to look at the standings and the result tonight and say ‘Wow, we beat one of the best teams in the League and a team that’s talked about a lot as a Stanley Cup contender.’ We definitely use it as confidence throughout our group in this room and maybe being the playoff match-up.”

 

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.