Before the 2019-20 NHL season was paused back in March the Minnesota Wild were one of the hotter teams in the Western Conference and making a furious push for a playoff spot.
One of the driving forces behind that late season surge was the play of goaltender Alex Stalock.
He picked up where he left off on Sunday night by stopping all 28 shots he faced in a 3-0 win over the Vancouver Canucks in Game 1 of their qualifying round series.
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Stalock’s continued great play was not the only factor in the Wild’s win. Let’s take a look at a few other observations from Sunday’s game.
Kevin Fiala stayed hot for Minnesota
This has turned out to be the best move that former general manager Paul Fenton made in his brief tenure with the Wild.
Fiala emerged this season as one of the Wild’s go-to offensive players (leading the team with 54 points) and had scored 14 goals in his final 14 regular season games. He opened the scoring on Sunday night with a power play goal early in the first period.
Spurgeon has been one of the league’s most overlooked and underrated defenders for quite a while now, but everyone in Minnesota knows exactly how good he is.
The rest of the NHL received a great look at it on Sunday.
Spurgeon finished Sunday’s game with three points (two goals and an assist) and four blocked shots in 23 minutes of ice-time.
After assisting on Fiala’s goal early in the first period, Spurgeon added a power play goal of his own in the second period and then added the final insurance marker with an empty-net goal late in the third period.
Not even two minutes into the game Ferland dropped the gloves with Minnesota’s Marcus Foligno.
Later in the game, he had another encounter with the Wild when Luke Kunin held onto his stick from the bench, resulting in Ferland spearing Minnesota’s Ryan Hartman.
Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.
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.
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.
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.
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.