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Preseason Buzz: Marleau off to fast start with Maple Leafs

38-year-old scores in first preseason game with new team after 19 seasons with Sharks

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Welcome to the 2017 preseason!

This is a busy time, with preseason games underway, rookies looking to make a name for themselves and veterans aiming to lock down roster spots. Each day, we will have all the updates of note right here.

Here is the preseason news for Wednesday:

 

Marleau scores in first preseason game for Maple Leafs

Toronto Maple Leafs forward Patrick Marleau scored a goal in his preseason debut, a 5-2 loss to the Ottawa Senators.

"It's definitely nice to get one and get some confidence and just build off of that," Marleau said after playing in the NHL for the first time other than with the San Jose Sharks. "I was into it just trying to figure everything out system-wise. Penalty kill, power play, those different things."

Marleau, 38, spent 19 seasons with the Sharks before signing a three-year, $18.75 million contract with Toronto on July 2.

Maple Leafs forward Leo Komarov won a battle for the puck along the boards at Toronto's blueline against Senators defenseman Patrick Sieloff and sent a pass to Marleau in the neutral zone. He came across the blueline with speed, skated past defenseman Erik Burgdoerfer on the right wing and beat goaltender Mike Condon with a wrist shot over his glove.

Marleau, 38, played 17:34 and was credited with three shots on goal. He played left wing on a line with center Nazem Kadri and Komarov on the right wing.

"Patty was fine, I'm not very concerned about Patty. I think anytime you come to a new environment, you like to get off to a good start," Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock said. "He'll be energized and excited just because he's in a new environment, because it's different for him and it's a change."

Video: OTT@TOR: Marleau snipes wrister in Leafs debut

 

Blues lose Steen with left hand injury

St. Louis Blues forward Alexander Steen could miss the start of the regular season after injuring his left hand in a 5-3 preseason loss at the Dallas Stars on Tuesday.

The Blues said Wednesday that Steen will miss the rest of the preseason and will be re-evaluated in three weeks. They open their season against the Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins at PPG Paints Arena on Oct. 4 (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN).

Coach Mike Yeo said the injury occurred when Steen took a slash behind the net.

"We knew on the bench right after it happened," Yeo said. "We saw it, first of all and then when he came back to the bench, we knew it was an issue. The trainer [Ray Barile] came down and talked to me and told me that it had happened, it was sore and he was going to give it another shot. Tough news."

Defenseman Jay Bouwmeester is also sidelined with a fractured left ankle and will be re-evaluated in three weeks. Forward Zach Sanford will have surgery to repair a dislocated left shoulder and will be out 5-6 months.

"It's been an interesting week in that regard," Yeo said, "but we'll move forward."

Steen, 33, is entering his 10th season with the Blues. He had 51 points (16 goals, 35 assists) in 76 games last season, and seven points (three goals, four assists) in the Stanley Cup Playoffs before St. Louis lost the Western Conference Second Round in six games to the Nashville Predators.

Video: STL@NSH, Gm4: Steen makes courageous block on slapper

 

Vrana trying to grab top-six forward spot with Capitals

Rookie Jakub Vrana will play right wing on a line with Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov in the Washington Capitals' preseason game against the Montreal Canadiens at Bell Centre on Wednesday (7 p.m. ET; NHL Network, RDS, CSN-DC).

Vrana is looking to secure a top-six forward spot. After losing forwards Justin Williams (signed with the Carolina Hurricanes) and Marcus Johansson (traded to the New Jersey Devils) in the offseason, the Capitals need to replace two of their top-six forwards.

One of those spots will go to Andre Burakovsky. That leaves Vrana, the Capitals' 2014 first-round draft pick, No. 13, in the competition for the other spot against veterans such as Brett Connolly and Tom Wilson. The 21-year-old played in 21 games with the Capitals last season and had six points (three goals, three assists).

He had 70 points (35 goals, 35 assists) in 85 games with Hershey in the American Hockey League during the past two seasons.

"I think [Vrana] playing with high-skill guys, he plays a better game," coach Barry Trotz said. "He is not a guy that can grind it out on the fourth line. We drafted him to be a high prospect; we want to put him in that position, and I think he's capable of it. It's really in his hands now."

Vrana knows that.

"You see an opening, but you have to go grab it yourself," Vrana said. "I have to go out there and show what I can do on the ice and hopefully impress the staff and grab the spot."

 

Tkachuk to sit again for Flames

Forward Matthew Tkachuk will sit out again because of a hip flexor injury when the Calgary Flames host the Vancouver Canucks on Wednesday (9 p.m. ET; NHLN-US [JIP], SN, SN360).

Tkachuk did not play in either split-squad game against the Edmonton Oilers on Monday.

With the season two weeks away, the Flames are being cautious with Tkachuk, who had 48 points (13 goals, 35 assists) and 105 penalty minutes in 76 games as a rookie last season.

"I thought for sure that he'd be skating today," coach Glen Gulutzan said. "Our guys want to make sure we're cautious and so do we. We would like him to play three or four games here, but it's not going to be today. They felt it was better to take one more day.

"He's going to take another day or two and see where he is, but we're not going to rush any of these guys at this point when we have time to make sure they're 100 percent."

The Flames host the Arizona Coyotes on Friday and play their final three preseason games next week. They open the regular season at Edmonton on Oct. 4.

-- Aaron Vickers

 

Darling's debut with Hurricanes pushed back

Carolina Hurricanes goaltender Scott Darling is "just a little banged up," and won't play in Wednesday's preseason game against the Tampa Bay Lightning at PNC Arena, coach Bill Peters said.

However, Peters said he hopes Darling will be cleared and available to play this weekend.

Darling did not play Monday in a 3-2 overtime win at the Buffalo Sabres, or Tuesday in Carolina's 2-1 victory at Tampa Bay. Rookies Alex Nedjelkovic (one goal allowed in the first two periods) and Callum Booth (no goals allowed in the third) played against Tampa Bay. Cam Ward and Jeremy Smith will dress Wednesday.

The Hurricanes' next game is at the Washington Capitals on Saturday.

Carolina acquired Darling from the Chicago Blackhawks in a trade on April 28 and signed him to a four-year, $16.6 million contract ($4.15 million average annual value) on May 5.

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