Things have ‘changed quickly’ for the Capitals, losers of four straight

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It wasn’t another 4-2 result. But the losing did continue for the Washington Capitals.

Washington lost 5-2 to the Anaheim Ducks, who were without goalie John Gibson due to injury, on Sunday.

The Capitals leave California on a four-game losing streak. They were swept on this trip, unable to secure even a single point. The schedule doesn’t get any easier in the immediate aftermath of this funk.

The Minnesota Wild lead the Central Division, have a shot at the Presidents’ Trophy and they are next to play the Capitals on Tuesday.

It wasn’t that long ago the Capitals were going through their opponents like a hot knife through butter. But the scoring problems that have suddenly crept up continue to linger on and the losses have followed.

The Pittsburgh Penguins are one point back in the Metropolitan Division. The Columbus Blue Jackets are three back. The New York Rangers are five back. The chase is very much on right now.

“We were winning 5-1, 6-1. Things were going a little too easy but now it’s the other way. It can change quickly here,” said Nicklas Backstrom, per the Capitals. Difficult, if not impossible, to maintain that level of offense throughout an entire 82-game season.

Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Ryan Kesler each had three points in the win, with Kesler recording his 20th goal — the ninth time in his career he’s hit that milestone in a single season. While on the other side, Alex Ovechkin‘s scoring drought reached 10 games.

When asked if, on this trip, the opposition’s best players had been better than Washington’s best, Backstrom confirmed that suggestion. “That’s absolutely correct. We had some chances, too, on the power play that we have to capitalize on. Overall, five-on-five we can be better,” he said.

Both teams entered the second period in a scoreless tie, but by the midway point, Anaheim had opened up a three-goal lead, thanks in large part to goals from Perry and Rickard Rakell 28 seconds apart.

“This is going to make us better,” said coach Barry Trotz. “It’s not going to make us worse.”

Blackhawks F Katchouk will be 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 Sunday.

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.