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5 things learned from Sept. 26 preseason games

Karlsson healthy, solid in first game with Sharks; Bear taking advantage of chance with Oilers

by Mike. G. Morreale @MikeMorrealeNHL / Staff Writer

Now that the 16-day, 107-game NHL preseason schedule has begun, it's time to take a closer look at the players, teams and stories that are making headlines in the weeks leading up to the start of the regular season Oct. 2.

Here are five things we learned from the preseason games Thursday:


Karlsson healthy, solid in preseason debut for Sharks

Erik Karlsson finally had an opportunity to shake off some rust off by making his preseason debut in a 4-1 win against the Calgary Flames at SAP Center.

The 29-year-old defenseman, who signed an eight-year contract with the Sharks on June 17, was limited to 53 games last season because of a groin injury and had offseason surgery to correct the issue before signing his contract.

"I think if you'd asked me a month ago if he'd look like he did right now and he was participating full-out, I'd probably be a little reluctant to say yes," coach Peter DeBoer told the Sharks website. "But that wasn't even a question. I thought he looked great out there."

Karlsson has been a full participant in training camp and earned 21:50 of ice time, including power play (4:10) and penalty kill (3:23), on Thursday.

"The first game is always about trying to feel it out a bit," Karlsson said. "But it felt good out there. It was the first game of the year."

When healthy, Karlsson is one of the most dynamic players in the NHL. Last season, he had 45 points (three goals, 42 assists) despite missing 29 games, and was tied for second on the Sharks with 16 points (two goals, 14 assists) in 19 playoff games.


New line comes through for Wild

Marcus Foligno might be the missing piece alongside center Joel Eriksson Ek and left wing Jordan Greenway to begin the season for the Minnesota Wild.

Wild coach Bruce Boudreau put Foligno on the same line with the other two for the first time this preseason early in the second period of a 2-1 win against the Dallas Stars at American Airlines Center and got the results he was seeking.

"They were dominant, I thought," Boudreau told the Wild website. "I try to temper the way it is, but the line itself was really, really good. All big, all strong. They dominated the boards, and this is a building where we have a very tough time."

Greenway (6-foot-6, 225 pounds), Ek (6-1, 210) and Foligno (6-3, 224) used their size and strength to an advantage by getting the puck deep and then battling on the forecheck. They combined for one goal, two assists, five hits and four shots on goal. Greenway scored 26 seconds into the second on assists from Ek and Foligno to give the Wild a 1-0 lead.  

"We've got three big bodies, so we really wanted to get the puck in deep, work their defensemen and create turnovers," Greenway said. "I think our size is definitely our line's biggest asset. We went to the net really well, we did a lot of things really well and I think that's why, for the most part, we stayed out of our zone and in their zone."

Video: MIN@DAL: Greenway tips pass home from in front


DeAngelo makes up for lost time with Rangers

Tony DeAngelo was impressive in his preseason debut, a 2-1 shootout victory by the New York Rangers against the Philadelphia Flyers at Madison Square Garden on Thursday.

The 23-year-old defenseman, who agreed to a one-year, $925,000 contract with the Rangers on Sept. 20 after missing the start of training camp as a restricted free agent, had one assist, five shots on goal, two takeaways and led the Rangers in ice time (22:53). He was paired with Marc Staal.

"I thought Tony played very well," coach David Quinn said after the game. "I thought he defended well, I thought he had great passes. I just liked a lot about Tony."

DeAngelo had 30 points (four goals, 26 assists) and was a Rangers-best plus-6 in 61 games last season. DeAngelo's 30 points led Rangers defensemen, and his games played, assists, points and average ice time (19:20) were NHL career highs.


Top prospects shine for Coyotes

Victor Soderstrom and Barrett Hayton each scored his first goal of the preseason in a span of 24 seconds in the Arizona Coyotes' 4-2 win against the Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Arena.

Soderstrom, the No. 11 selection in the 2019 NHL Draft, tied the game 2-2 at 11:41 of the second period, and Hayton, the No. 5 pick in the 2018 NHL Draft, gave the Coyotes a 3-2 lead at 12:05. 

The Coyotes traded up three spots in the draft to choose Soderstrom, who signed his entry-level contract July 7. The 18-year-old right-handed defenseman will either play for Tucson in the American Hockey League or return to Brynas of the Swedish Hockey League for another season.

Hayton (6-1, 190) appears NHL-ready physically and mentally after an impressive training camp, but the Coyotes will proceed with caution and do what is best for his development. 

The Arizona Republic reports the 19-year-old forward could begin the season in a fourth-line role on right wing with center Carl Soderberg and Lawson Crouse. If Hayton is returned to Sault Ste. Marie of the Ontario Hockey League, that spot will likely be occupied by Christian Fischer.

Video: ARI@VAN: Soderstrom snaps wrist shot past Markstrom


Oilers' opportunity knocks for Bear

Ethan Bear is taking advantage of a great opportunity to earn a roster spot with the Edmonton Oilers.

The right-handed defenseman scored twice in a 5-3 win against the Winnipeg Jets at Bell MTS Place. Bear (5-11, 197), a fifth-round pick (No. 124) in the 2015 NHL Draft, also took three shots on goal and had three blocked shots in 21:25 of ice time.

He had 31 points (six goals, 25 assists) in 52 games for Bakersfield of the American Hockey League last season and has one goal and three assists in 18 career NHL games with Edmonton. Coach Dave Tippett has paired Bear with Oscar Klefbom this preseason.

"Coming into the game, I was just focusing on doing the right things," Bear told the Oilers website. "Making sure I was moving the puck and taking care of my own end. I was happy that I was able to contribute."

The Oilers are giving Bear every opportunity to carve a role in the lineup when the regular season begins.

"I skated up to him (the morning of Sept. 25) and I said 'Knock, knock. Opportunity awaits,'" Tippett said. "It's up to him. He'll get in there in the last two preseason games, so hopefully he plays well."

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