Goalie nods: Allen seeks fifth straight win in another big game for Blues

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The Blues have a chance to push L.A. even further back in their rear view on Wednesday, and they’ll look to the red-hot Jake Allen for help.

Allen will go for his fifth consecutive win tonight when St. Louis takes on the Ducks in Anaheim. With a win, the Blues will move six points clear of the idle Kings for the final wild card spot in the Western Conference.

They have to like their chances, given the way Allen’s played in March.

In four games, he’s allowed just five goals on 125 shots for a sparkling .960 save percentage. That includes Monday’s big 3-1 win over the Kings, in which he made 38 saves.

It’s fair to say no St. Louis player has benefited more from Ken Hitchcock-to-Mike Yeo coaching change than Allen (to be fair, Allen also got a goalie coach change, from Jim Corsi to Martin Brodeur). Allen was also strong in February, posting a .933 save percentage while allowing three goals or fewer in each of his 10 appearances.

For the Ducks, Jonathan Bernier gets another start as John Gibson remains out with a lower-body injury.

Elsewhere…

— Tonight’s Battle of Pennsylvania will see Matt Murray and the Penguins take on Steve Mason and the Flyers. Murray is coming off a 27-save shutout in Vancouver on Saturday, while Mason makes his seventh start in the last eight games.

Anton Khudobin gets a rare start for the B’s, who are in Calgary. Chad Johnson starts ahead of the ailing Brian Elliott (more on that here).

Jimmy Howard made 26 saves in a win over Chicago last Friday (his first game returning from injury), so he’ll draw back in tonight when the Red Wings take on the Avs. Calvin Pickard starts after making 34 saves in a 1-0 loss to Arizona on Monday.

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.