Maple Leafs’ John Tavares stretchered off ice in Game 1 loss to Canadiens

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[UPDATE: Tavares has been discharged from a local hospital and is out indefinitely.]

Toronto Maple Leafs captain John Tavares had to be stretchered off the ice in their 2-1 Game 1 loss to the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday night following a scary collision with Montreal’s Corey Perry.

Tavares was initially pushed backwards by Canadiens defenseman Ben Chiarot. As he fell to the ice, Perry inadvertently collided with his head as he skated by to get back into the play, leaving Tavares in obvious distress on the ice. Trainers immediately tended to him. For as scary as the initial collision was, things looked even worse as they tried to set Tavares up on the ice and he immediately fell over backwards.

As he was taken off the ice on a stretcher Tavares did raise his arm and give up a thumbs up.

Nick Foligno fought Perry on his next shift.

Tavares was taken to a local hospital, and according to coach Sheldon Keefe after the game he is communicating well and initial tests are clear. He will remain in the hospital.

The Canadiens ended up taking Game 1 of the series thanks to a 35-save effort from Carey Price and goals from Josh Anderson and Paul Byron. Byron’s goal, a shorthanded tally, came late in the third period on an impressive individual effort as he was falling to the ice for the game-winning goal.

MAPLE LEAFS VS. CANADIENS – series livestream link

Game 1: Canadiens 2, Maple Leafs 1
Saturday, May 22: Canadiens at Maple Leafs, 7 p.m. ET (CNBC)
Monday, May 24: Maple Leafs at Canadiens, 7 p.m. ET
Tuesday, May 25: Maple Leafs at Canadiens TBD
*Thursday, May 27: Canadiens at Maple Leafs TBD
*Saturday, May 29: Maple Leafs at Canadiens TBD
*Monday, May 31: Canadiens at Maple Leafs TBD

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

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.