ANAHEIM — Rickard Rakell walked out of Honda Center and into a downpour Thursday morning. While his Ducks teammates skated, Rakell dodged heavy rain and massive puddles on his way to his car in the parking lot, wearing a walking boot as departed.
The Ducks said Rakell “tweaked” his ankle during a 4-2 victory Wednesday over the Chicago Blackhawks. The severity of Rakell’s injury and his status for Friday’s home game against the Carolina Hurricanes were still be determined, according to a team spokesman.
The Ducks were already without right wings Patrick Eaves (broken rib) and Corey Perry (knee surgery) and defenseman Cam Fowler (complex facial fractures). Eaves is out indefinitely. Perry is expected to be sidelined until March 1. Fowler is scheduled to resume off-ice workouts this weekend.
Rakell was scoreless in the Ducks’ fifth consecutive victory and was credited with two shots on goal and two hits in 16:56 of ice time. He played less than center Ryan Getzlaf, who played 19:03, but more than left wing Pontus Aberg (14:31), his linemates.
Newly-acquired right wing Daniel Sprong moved into Rakell’s spot alongside Getzlaf and Aberg for Thursday’s practice. It’s likely they could form a line Friday against the Hurricanes if Rakell, the Ducks’ second-leading scorer with 20 points, can’t play.
Getzlaf leads the Ducks with 22 points, Aberg has a team-leading nine goals and Sprong scored a goal Wednesday in his debut with the team after a trade Monday from the Pittsburgh Penguins. Rakell leads the Ducks with 15 assists, one more than Getzlaf.
Rakell, 25, is one of only four Ducks to play in all 30 games for the injury-depleted team this season, along with left wing Andrew Cogliano, center Adam Henrique and defenseman Brandon Montour. Rakell led the Ducks with 34 goals and 69 points in 77 games last season.
At game’s end, after he scored his first goal on his first shot in his first game, Sprong insisted his shot launched from an extreme angle was a quality opportunity. He also said he’s scored goals like that before, in the AHL and in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
Reminded that Chicago’s Corey Crawford is not a minor-league or junior-level goaltender, Sprong shrugged and said, “I’ve scored many goals like that in juniors and in the American Hockey League. I saw the hole and decided to let it go.”
Ducks coach Randy Carlyle called it a “big-time shot.”
“That’s been his history in the American league and junior hockey,” Carlyle said of Sprong, 21. “He’s going to get an opportunity to play in those areas with us. The shot was a welcomed sight because he looks like he can provide some offense if he shoots the puck like that.”
]The Penguins drafted Sprong in the second round (46th overall) in 2015 after he had a stellar career in the high-scoring QMJHL. He scored 117 goals and 261 points in 199 career games with the Charlottetown (Prince Edward Island) Islanders between 2013 and 2017.
Not only have the Ducks won five consecutive games, their longest streak of the season, but they also have won seven of their past eight and have recorded points in nine of 10 (7-1-2) and 10 of 12 (8-2-2). They moved within one point of first place in the Pacific Division with Wednesday’s win.
STREAKING (PART 2)
Henrique has one goal and five assists during a six-game point streak, a season high. Left wing Nick Ritchie, who formed a line with Henrique and Sprong for Wednesday’s game against Chicago, has four goals and nine points in his past 10 games. Sprong’s goal ended a 16-game drought this season.
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