Bruins defeat Sharks in first game since firing Claude Julien

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Facing the top team in the Pacific Division, the Boston Bruins won their first game since firing coach Claude Julien on Tuesday.

The decision to fire Julien drew criticism for the timing of the news, which occurred during the New England Patriots championship parade the same day. But it also put Bruins management under further scrutiny for the club’s numerous shortfalls on its roster.

Yet despite the tumultuous times of the past few days and weeks, the Bruins came away victorious on a snowy night in Boston.

The Bruins capitalized early against the San Jose Sharks, chasing goalie Martin Jones from the net after taking a 3-1 lead in the first period. On this night, at least, the goals continued to flow as Boston scored a 6-3 victory to get back into the final wild card spot, getting a win for Bruce Cassidy in his debut behind the bench.

“I feel great. It’s been a busy two or three days. I’ll sleep well tonight. Everyone likes to win,” said Cassidy.

David Pastrnak scored twice, giving him 24 goals on the season.

The Bruins now lead the Philadelphia Flyers by a single point, and the New York Islanders by two points.

But despite their success tonight, Bruins president Cam Neely has acknowledged that this team’s roster still needs improvement.

“Getting in (the playoffs) gives you a chance, so yes, we want to get in, and I think it would be silly for us to say we’re not a playoff team with the bulk of the players that we have. Do we need to get better? One hundred percent,” Neely told a Boston radio station.

“The roster needs help. No question.”

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.