Alex Pietrangelo ready to ‘move forward’ ahead of first game against Blues

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Alex Pietrangelo is ready to battle his old teammates Tuesday night as a member of the Vegas Golden Knights.

The longtime St. Louis Blues captain signed a seven-year, $61.6M contract with the Golden Knights in October, ending his 12-year tenure where he won a Stanley Cup.

The 2020-21 NHL realignment and intra-divisional schedule format ensures that Pietrangelo will see his former team plenty this season — something he’s prepared for.

“I think if it was my first game here, maybe it would be a little bit different,” Pietrangelo said Monday. “We’ve played six games now. I mean, I’m kind of past that point. I knew this day would come eventually. I’ve been joking that, I guess, if you’re going to do it, just do it eight times in one year and get past it. I feel good. I feel comfortable about it and ready to kind of get it over with so we can move forward.”

Pietrangelo has made Vegas his new home and settled in nicely with his family and on the Golden Knights’ blue line through six games. While he’s no longer in St. Louis, his former home is in good hands. Torey Krug, who the Blues signed to replace him, bought the house after inking a seven-year, $45.5M deal.

“Not really any funny story,” Pietrangelo said. “I just think it [worked] well for both of us.”

Making an immediate impact

It’s worked out on the ice as well for Pietrangelo. The Golden Knights are 5-1-0 and atop the West Division, three points ahead of the 3-2-1 Blues and he has a goal and three points while averaging 25:04 of ice time.

You could have excused some early-season rust on a shortened training camp and no preseason games. But Pietrangelo hasn’t missed a beat as he learns a new system.

“I think anytime you come to a new team, new language, new teammates, there’s an adjustment period,” said Golden Knights head coach Peter DeBoer. “I think he’s adjusted faster than most players. I thought last game was arguably his best so far. World-class player. I think that the most impressive part for me has been how open he is to coaching and, and learning our new system and some of the things that that maybe haven’t been familiar to him over his time in St. Louis. It’s all new. He’s open-minded and coachable to everything we’re talking about, which is the most impressive thing when you have a guy with his pedigree and that’s contagious in your group. When you can coach a guy like that, and he wants to be coached, I think that it’s a great role model for the other guys that are in that defensive corps.”

“Anytime you’re in a system for 750 games it becomes habit,” Pietrangelo said, “so I think for me moving forward here, continuing to work on Pete’s system, I’m starting to feel more comfortable, starting to find my way starting to find ways to create more opportunities, which is part of my game. … You want to play to your strength but at the same time you want to make sure you fit in to what the coaches want to be successful.”

If COVID-19 wasn’t a worry, Pietrangelo would have had his old teammates over to his new home to catch up. But the friendly chirps will have to wait until warmups and a video tribute won’t come until the Golden Knights visit St. Louis for the first time this season on March 12.

Friendships will be hold for a few hours Tuesday once the puck drops.

“When you get in the game, you got to play the game, right?” Pietrangelo said. “I don’t think they’re going to let up on me.”

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

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.