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OTTAWA — Defenseman Erik Karlsson will not join the Ottawa Senators on their current road trip in Western Canada but could be in the lineup as early as next week.

The two-time Norris Trophy winner, who had surgery on his left foot to repair torn tendons June 14, will remain in Ottawa to work on his conditioning.

“We are hopeful that he will play at some point in time next week,” general manager Pierre Dorion said Wednesday.

The Senators play the Calgary Flames at Scotiabank Saddledome on Friday (9 p.m. ET, SNF, RDS2, TSN5, NHL.TV) and are at the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday. They return home to play the Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday.

“It’s all about conditioning and he has to get used to a different sensation in his foot, but there is no setback at all,” Dorion said. “We talked before we left (for the road trip) that the best thing to get him ready is to have him skate with (player development coach) Shean Donovan on a daily basis.

“With Erik, I know he’s putting in a lot of hard work on the ice and in the gym to come and help this team sooner than later. It’s just conditioning. We all know when Erik steps into the lineup he is not going to play seven minutes. He will play his usual 25 minutes to 30 minutes. I think when you have to play that many minutes, you have to be in shape. Even though Erik is special and in great shape, the more we can get him in that great shape the best it will be for everyone.”

Dorion said there is a chance defenseman Johnny Oduya, who sustained a lower-body injury against the Washington Capitals on Thursday and remained in Ottawa, could join the team in Calgary and be in the lineup in Edmonton.

Oduya, 36, signed a one-year contract worth $1 million with bonuses that could add up to another $1.25 million July 24.

Senators coach Guy Boucher dressed seven defensemen in a 3-2 shootout win against the Canucks on Tuesday including rookies Christian Jaros, who made his NHL debut, and Thomas Chabot, who played his second game in the League.

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Mike Smith

Mike Smith

Mike Smith made 43 saves and the Calgary Flames ended a 25-game skid at Honda Center with a 2-0 win over the Anaheim Ducks on Monday night.

Calgary got goals from Sean Monahan and Mikael Backlund. It hadn’t won at Anaheim since Jan. 19, 2004.

The game was scoreless until late in the second period, when Kevin Bieksa’s cross-checking minor gave the Flames their fourth power play. Calgary was unsuccessful until Johnny Gaudreau fired a cross-ice pass from above the far-side circle to Kris Versteeg on the far post. Versteeg’s initial shot was blocked by Cam Fowler, but the puck rebounded to Monahan, who beats a leaning John Gibson.

The Ducks carried the play in the third. Midway through the period, Ryan Getzlaf lost a battle along the boards. The puck got through to Michael Frolik, who skated it up the ice. Frolik sent a pass through the legs of Brandon Montour to an on-rushing Backlund, who beat Gibson top-shelf.

Smith survived a mad scramble in the final minute to preserve his 34th career shutout and first with Calgary.

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The Golden Knights

This evening was supposed to be one of celebration in Las Vegas, the entertainment capital of the world where the next raucous party is never more than a stone’s throw away. At 5.30pm local time, the city’s first major sports franchise, the Vegas Golden Knights, will play their first ever NHL game, away to the Dallas Stars. It is an ice hockey match some 26 years in the making and a landmark moment for the sport.

But late last week, everything changed. On Sunday evening, not long after thousands of fans had poured out of the T-Mobile Arena and onto the Strip after watching their new team narrowly lose their final game of the pre-season, a gunman named Stephen Paddock opened fire on an open-air concert from the 32nd floor of the nearby Mandalay Bay hotel. People initially mistook the loud, crackling noise for fireworks. 59 people died. 527 more were injured.

And, suddenly, the Golden Knights’ hastily-assembled squad of players, many of whom were eating dinner at the nearby Cosmopolitan as the tragedy unfolded, found themselves with a job far bigger than what they had been brought to the city to do. No longer hockey players but something else entirely, they visited the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department headquarters, United Blood Services, and the Las Vegas Convention Center, bringing some moral support to a city struggling to cope with the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history.

“Sports are a great thing, it can help take people’s minds off of things,” defenseman Nate Schmidt said during a media day on Wednesday, after stopping off at the city’s blood drive. “As much as the city has embraced us, we’re a part of Las Vegas and want to help through the grieving process.”

His team-mate, Deryk Engelland, was meanwhile still attempting to process the tragic events of Sunday night. “My wife is shaken up and she’s scared to go to the games, or to take the kids to the home opener,” he said. “You see these things happen all over the world and no one ever thinks it’s going to happen in their backyard. For it to happen here, it’s horrific.”

Horror, tragedy, grieving: these were not the circumstances under which Gerard Gallant imagined taking charge of his first regular game with his new team. A softly-spoken Canadian who was driving home after picking up his daughter from McCarran International Airport when the atrocity began to unfold, he told The Independent only a month previously how he expected the Golden Knights to be a force for good within the community.

“Teams are going to love coming here,” he said at the franchise’s headquarters, located away from the hustle and bustle of the Strip at the nearby planned community of Summerlin, Nevada. “We have a brand new arena and it will be cool for other teams to come here and play hockey. It’s exciting, there is a buzz around the place and there’s an amazing atmosphere here at the minute.”

It takes less than 20 minutes to drive from the Strip to Summerlin and yet it feels like a world away. Leafy, affluent and quiet, in stark contrast to the effervescent heart of Sin City, it is here that Gallant sat and discussed his plans for the season to ahead, having found some time out of preparing his new side for their very first season in the NHL.

That in itself is something of an accomplishment, as Gallant has had much to get ready before the NHL’s first expansion team since 2000 take to the ice in Dallas, Texas. An entire squad of new players must learn how to play alongside one another in a brand new system. Opposition teams must be scouted and prepared for. Not to mention the raft of off-the-rink, administrative duties.

Which rather begs the question: just why did he take the job?

Gallant smiled when the question was put to him. “The opportunity came up for me not long after I got fired from the Florida Panthers, last November,” he explained. And when I was let go in Florida, it hurt. It’s never fun to lose your job. But when the opportunities come up every coach is the same – you don’t want to just sit out and do nothing. I was on the list of the guys that the Golden Knights wanted to interview for the job and after I left my first interview I told my wife that I had a very good feeling about things. And after a long process, I was offered the position.”

The 54-year-old, who has prior experience working with a franchise team having previously coached the Columbus Blue Jackets, admitted to being drawn in by the prospect of leading the Golden Knights through a historic campaign, at a historic time for the city.

“There were a combination of factors that appealed to me about moving here,” added Gallant. “Of course I knew the people but then there was also the experience of being the first ever team in Las Vegas. I’d been here five or six times before, with my buddies on golf trips and on vacation with my wife, and I really enjoyed those experiences. And now I have the chance to help build something very special here.”

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Montreal CanadiensTORONTO — Center Jonathan Drouin is day to day with an upper-body injury and did not play for the Montreal Canadiens in a 5-1 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs at Ricoh Coliseum on Monday.

“It’s a muscular thing and it was more out of precaution for tonight than anything else,” coach Claude Julien said. “He was scheduled to play, he was fine this morning, and then just after practice we chose to take the safe route and do that. So, it’s day to day, muscular, upper body.”

Drouin, 22, was expected to play on the top line with left wing Max Pacioretty and right wing Brendan Gallagher. Forward Torrey Mitchell replaced Drouin in the lineup.

Asked whether he had any concerns about Drouin’s status for the long term, Julien said, “No.”

Drouin, the No. 3 pick of the 2013 NHL Draft, was acquired in a trade from the Tampa Bay Lightning on June 15 and signed a six-year contract reportedly worth $33 million ($5.5 million average annual value) later that day.

The Canadiens scratched goaltender Charlie Lindgren before warmups because of a lower-body injury. Al Montoya started instead and allowed five goals on 21 shots.

“Just before the game as he was warming up, he just had a lower-body injury that required him not to play,” Julien said. “He’ll be evaluated by the doctors here moving forward.”

Jake Hildebrand, who played last season for the Indy Fuel of the ECHL, was the emergency backup goaltender.

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EL SEGUNDO, Calif. — An uneasy fall turned into an unsettled winter, a spring without the Stanley Cup Playoffs and a management and coaching change for the Los Angeles Kings.

Their captain, center Anze Kopitar, had never experienced such a prolonged personal struggle on the ice, at any age. It stung when the Kings missed the playoffs for the second time in the past three seasons.

“I had periods, at a time, where it didn’t go [right],” said Kopitar, who turned 30 on Aug. 24. “It’s not even close to having a full season like that. It’s different and you get to know yourself and you see what you’ve got to do. I definitely learned from it.

“Once you go in the wrong direction, it’s really tough to stop it first and then get going again. I don’t think my start was all that poor. It wasn’t great but it wasn’t a complete disaster. After a while the pucks weren’t going where I wanted them to go, and you start thinking about it.”

Kopitar was speaking Tuesday at the Kings practice facility, a day before they were to hit the ice for the start of training camp. Even a two-time Stanley Cup champion (2012, 2014) and Selke Trophy winner (2016) can go through a crisis of confidence; last season, he didn’t score his fourth goal until Jan. 9 and never really ignited for a sustained stretch.

“I’ve got to be better,” said Kopitar, who signed an eight-year, $80 million contract, with an average annual value of $10 million, to remain with Los Angeles on Jan. 16, 2016. “I’ve got to look at myself first, because I want to play better and I’ve got the confidence that I can get back on the level that I expect myself to be and everybody around me expects me to be on.”

Last season, his first season as Kings captain, Kopitar had 52 points (12 goals, 40 assists) in 76 games, his fewest points in a full season since entering the NHL in 2006-07. It was the first time in 10 seasons he did not lead the Kings in scoring, giving way to center Jeff Carter, who had 66 points (32 goals, 34 assists) in 82 games.

However, there a noticeable air of optimism around the Kings headquarters after an offseason of change. Longtime general manager Dean Lombardi and coach Darryl Sutter were fired in April after Los Angeles went 39-35-8 and were replaced by Rob Blake as GM and John Stevens as coach. Kings defenseman Drew Doughty has noticed a visibly upbeat atmosphere around his teammates and staff.

“I’ve never seen so much excitement around the rink,” Doughty said. “Everyone is walking around smiling. I know it’s early and it’s camp. The real work hasn’t begun yet, but it’s just a new feeling around the team and it feels good.”

There is excitement, too, about the potential of more offensive freedom. The Kings won’t be straying wildly from the defensive tenets that won two Stanley Cup championships. They want to open it up, looking to improve their average of 2.43 goals per game, tied for 24th in the NHL last season.

“We always pride ourselves on being a good defensive team,” Kopitar said. “We’re not going to change that. We want to kind of bring more freedom into our game when the guys aren’t scared to make plays.

“Let’s face it, there are 30 [other] teams in the league that are pretty good, and they’re going to make good plays, too. We can’t be afraid to mishandle a puck or something in trying to make a good play, because we have the confidence that our defense is good.

“We have a world-class goaltender [Jonathan Quick]. Sometimes we don’t want to rely on it, but sometimes that’s going to have to bail us out. But again, we’re not going to trade chances. We’re not going to run and gun. But we just want to be a little bit more creative and a little bit more confident in our ability to make plays.”

Kopitar was having his on-ice woes at the same time he was adjusting to the Kings’ captaincy. He said it should be a smoother process this season.

“You learn with time,” he said. “I think last year that was the biggest thing was kind of figuring it out and sometimes to speak up and what to do and how to approach it and how to help out the guys.”

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BUFFALO — Defenseman Damon Severson hopes to improve in a top-four role after signing a six-year, $25 million contract with the New Jersey Devils on Monday.

“I don’t really look at it as pressure,” said Severson, who was a restricted free agent with no arbitration rights. “I take it as a vote of confidence from the management and ownership. I just have to have the confidence to know that I can help the team with the skill set I bring and do what I can to keep getting better, and progressing in a way to make this team better.”

The contract has an average annual value of $4.17 million and does not include a no-trade clause.

Severson, 23, was glad to sign a long-term contract because it showed him the Devils view him as a fixture of their defense for the future. General manager Ray Shero said Friday that a bridge deal of two or three years was possible, but the shorter contract would have left Severson a restricted free agent with arbitration rights much sooner.

“The market is relatively set for these young defensemen, but again you’re always coming off a three-year deal for these young players,” Shero said during the Prospects Challenge at HarborCenter on Monday. “I was always willing to do a long-term deal with Damon because as a young defenseman, he has a really good skill set and good hands. It will take some time for these young defensemen to get to where they want to be.”

Said Severson: “I was happy when the Devils preferred to go long term because I wanted to commit to New Jersey. A bridge deal is a different way of looking at it, but I’m happy with a long-term contract. I’m comfortable and excited for what’s to come here.”

Severson, selected in the second round (No. 60) of the 2012 NHL Draft, was coming off a three-year, $2.85 million entry-level contract, according to

“He’s played 200 games and, like our team, we have to continue to develop and get better and he’s a big part of that,” Shero said. “It’s going to be up to him and our coaching staff to get to that next level, for us to be a good team and for him to be the best player he could be.”

Severson has 69 points (nine goals, 60 assists) in 203 NHL games. In addition to contributing offensively, he said he wants to improve on his minus-31 rating from last season.

“I didn’t have a good plus/minus last year, so you always want to work at that, in addition to points,” Severson said. “There might be stretches when I might not put up any numbers at all. It’s just a matter of playing that consistent game and being the guy that your teammates and everyone can trust.”

Severson, who could be paired with captain Andy Greene when the Devils open the season against the Colorado Avalanche at Prudential Center on Oct. 7, had NHL career highs of 28 assists and 31 points in 2016-17, his third NHL season. He was third on the Devils with 73 blocked shots and averaged 20:21 of ice time per game.

“I’m looking forward to developing here,” Severson said. “I know the type of player I can be and I’m going to try to keep that going in the right direction. I’m an offensive style guy so I’ll try and play that way, knowing that defense takes care of offense.

“It’s just a matter of winning; at the end of the year they don’t ask who lost the Stanley Cup. They ask who won it and we want to get there.”

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BUFFALO, N.Y. — Buffalo Sabres forward Kyle Okposo happily looks to the future now that he’s fully recovered from the concussion-related symptoms that nearly derailed his career in March.

Saying he’s not dwelling on the past, Okposo was eager to rejoin the Sabres after skating with numerous teammates for practice a little more than a week before the team opens training camp. Though he has been skating for much of the summer, Tuesday marked his first time on the ice in Buffalo since being hospitalized late last season.

“It was obviously a tough situation, a tough road,” Okposo said. “I’m just happy to be back and happy to be able to play again, and play at a high level.”

He acknowledged questioning if he would ever get better before he started feeling “clear” in May.

“It was definitely a scary thing,” Okposo said. “Your mind starts to question a lot of things.”

In a letter posted on the Sabres website in July, Okposo wrote he began losing weight and had difficulty sleeping after what he described as “a routine hit” in practice. He played one game before the symptoms worsened.

Okposo then spent nearly a week in April in Buffalo General Hospital’s Neuro Surgical ICU to be stabilized.

The 29-year-old from St. Paul, Minnesota, had 19 goals and 26 assists for 45 points in 65 games during his first season with Buffalo. Okposo signed a $42 million, seven-year contract with the Sabres in free agency last year.