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preseason

5 things learned from Oct. 8 preseason games

Panthers lose Jonathan Huberdeau to injury, Carter Hutton steps up for Blues

NHL.com @NHL

Now that the 15-day, 106-game 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 on Wednesday.

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

Huberdeau hurt: Florida Panthers forward Jonathan Huberdeau limped off the ice about 6:30 in the first period against the New Jersey Devils at the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, New York, when the skate of Devils forward Sergey Kalinin came down came down on the back of his left ankle.

Huberdeau will miss 3-4 months because of a leg injury.

The Panthers, who won the game 4-2, are already without forward Nick Bjugstad, who is out at least four weeks with a broken hand. In Huberdeau's absence, Jonathan Marchessault was moved from the third line to the top line with Jaromir Jagr and Aleksander Barkov.

Video: NJD@FLA: Huberdeau leaves game with an injury

Huberdeau, 23, signed a six-year contract extension with the Panthers worth $35.4 million, an average annual value of $5.9 million, on Sept. 7. He had NHL career highs of 20 goals and 39 assists (59 points) in 76 games last season.

The Panthers begin their season against the Devils at BB&T Center on Thursday (7:30 p.m. ET; FS-F, MSG+).

Confidence in Carter: Though St. Louis Blues goaltender Jake Allen was injured in the first period of a 2-1 win against the Chicago Blackhawks, backup Carter Hutton has shown he's capable of stepping up as starter if Allen were to miss any time.

Allen appeared to be injured after making a save with 2:18 left in the first period. He stayed in the game for the remainder of the first and tested his leg in the crease before the start of the second, but returned to the locker room and was replaced by Hutton. Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said Allen was removed as a precaution and did not have a full report on his condition after the game.

Video: CHI@STL: Hutton stones Fortin with left pad

Hutton stopped 11 of 12 shots and had a 2.05 goals-against average in five preseason appearances.

"He's been the best player in camp," Hitchcock told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "He's been outstanding since the time he put on the pads. He's been great in practice, been great in the games. He's just been outstanding."

Hutton, who signed a two-year, $2.25 million contract with the Blues on July 1 after three seasons with the Nashville Predators, could be starting when St. Louis begins its regular season at Chicago on Wednesday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN).

"I think they have all the confidence in me," Hutton said. "I've been through these situations before. At the same time, I think that's why they went out and got me, to be that stability we need in certain points. I don't want to think about that, whatever is going on with him, we'll figure that out. But at the same time, no matter who is going, I think we have a lot of confidence in our team depth-wise.

"I know how hard we worked to get prepared for camp, and you get in the last preseason game and go down like that, it [stinks]. You just hope the best. Our team goes with [Allen], he's our guy. But that's where you get called upon, to step in there, and try to help out."

Stamkos returns: Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos had three assists in his preseason debut, a 5-3 win against the Predators at Amalie Arena.

Defensemen Victor Hedman and Anton Stralman also played for the first time since competing in the World Cup of Hockey 2016. Hedman was a minus-2 with two shots on goal in 22:11 of ice time. Stralman had an assist and two shots in 22:05.

"I think we got better as the game went on," Stamkos told the Lightning website. "You could tell that the majority of us hadn't played a game in a while, so there was so some rust. We are getting back to the structure that we play as a team. We'll take the good and the bad and work on it. It's just nice to get out there and get the process going of getting back to the way we know we can play."

The Lightning play the Detroit Red Wings in their season opener at Amalie Arena on Thursday (7:30 p.m. ET; SUN, FS-D).

Zetterberg back: Red Wings forward Henrik Zetterberg also played his first preseason game after missing time with a knee injury sustained during off-ice training. Detroit's captain, who turned 36 Sunday, had an assist in 18:36 of ice time playing with Frans Nielsen and Tomas Tatar.

Video: TOR@DET: Larkin puts home a backhander for PPG

"Felt OK, felt like a first game," Zetterberg told the Red Wings website. "It was fun to play with Frans and [Tatar]. I thought we got better as the game went. It was nice to get this in. Obviously it would have been tough to go straight into Tampa so I'm pleased that I was able to come back."

Frozen Fury finale: Gabriel Landeskog's goal 37 seconds into overtime gave the Colorado Avalanche a 2-1 win against the Los Angeles Kings at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. The game was the 18th and final edition of the Frozen Fury between the Avalanche and Kings in Las Vegas, where an NHL expansion franchise will begin play in the 2017-18 season.

The Avalanche ended the preseason 6-0-0. They open their season against the Dallas Stars at Pepsi Center on Saturday (9 p.m. ET; ALT, FS-SW).

"I think we have a lot of time to get the work done that we need to, and I think the guys are excited for the regular season," coach Jared Bednar told the Avalanche website. "It was a great preseason, but that is all it was. Now it's time for the real thing come Saturday. So we're going to do everything we possibly can to have a focused group [during] practice here and have them rested for Saturday and ready to go."

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