Banged-up Blues lose Gunnarsson for season with knee injury

The banged-up St. Louis Blues got more bad injury news Tuesday with word that defenseman Carl Gunnarsson won’t play again this season and forward Ivan Barbashev is out at least six weeks.

Gunnarsson injured his right knee when he got tangled up with Kings forward Gabe Vilardi midway through a 3-0 loss to Los Angeles on Monday night. Barbashev had surgery on his left ankle Tuesday morning and will be re-evaluated in early April.

St. Louis was already without top winger Vladimir Tarasenko, forwards Jaden Schwartz, Robert Thomas and Tyler Bozak, and No. 1 defenseman Colton Parayko. The additional injuries to Gunnarsson and Barbashev will further test the Blues’ depth.

“It’s the situation that we’re in,” coach Craig Berube said after an optional practice. “We’ve just got to move forward and go play and win some games.

The Blues are a long way from their Stanley Cup celebration in June 2019 after letting captain Alex Pietrangelo leave in free agency, losing Alex Steen to retirement because of a back injury, and playing without Tarasenko all season after another operation on his left shoulder.

Then came Bozak’s injury from a big hit, Thomas’ broken hand, Schwartz’s lower-body injury and Parayko’s upper-body injury. Bozak is skating and seems the closest to returning; Berube didn’t have any updates on Schwartz or Parayko.

“We’ve just got to keep grinding through this and keep working together,” Berube said. “The biggest thing is just sticking together as a team, making sure we’re doing that, and guys that are going in the lineup are getting an opportunity to play. We need everybody just to step up.”

One of those players the Blues need to step up is forward Mackenzie MacEachern, who called losing Gunnarsson “a sad day for the team.” On defense, there’s more of an onus on young players Niko Mikkola and Jake Walman.

“Them and other guys that are in there right now,” Berube said. “They don’t have to come in and be special. We’re asking them just to come in and do the job that they’re asked to do.”

St. Louis has lost two in a row but remains in second place in the West Division. Tarasenko is skating, and general manager Doug Armstrong has said he expects the 29-year-old Russian to be back well before the end of the regular season, which runs until early May.

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    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.

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