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Kings and Ducks injured players taking steps in the right direction

LOS ANGELES — Essentially, the best news for the Kings and the Ducks on Sunday had nothing to do with the final score in their preseason game.

For the record, the Kings won 2-1 at Crypto.com Arena, sparked by first-period power-play goals from Adrian Kempe and Arthur Kaliyev. Scoring for the Ducks was Rocco Grimaldi, who is in camp on a tryout.

Bigger picture: It was the first game in about 11 months for Kings defenseman Sean Walker. Walker suffered a torn ACL in St. Louis last season in late October, an injury that required surgery and a long and arduous rehabilitation.

“It was great. Just to be back out there skating with my teammates and wearing a Kings jersey again was pretty special,” Walker said.

Admittedly, there was going to be a certain amount of rust, but Walker said he didn’t feel hesitant in making particular moves. He later said he felt the game proved he was ready to go for the Kings’ season opener on Oct. 11.

“The more I’m getting in there and getting in game situations, I’ll be more confident making those plays,” said Walker, who logged 16 minutes 35 seconds of ice time.

In the morning, the Ducks were able to breathe a collective sigh of relief, receiving positive updates about defenseman Urho Vaakanainen and forward Trevor Zegras.  Vaakanainen was briefly hospitalized at UCI Health Medical Center in Orange and released on Friday night after going hard into the boards in the first period against the San Jose Sharks and taken off on a stretcher.

Zegras took a brief turn on the ice at the start of practice in Irvine on Sunday morning and was listed as day-to-day with an upper-body injury, which he suffered on Wednesday against the Arizona Coyotes.

“He (Zegras) came out for a little bit for the start of practice, didn’t stay long but that’s always encouraging,” Ducks coach Dallas Eakins said at Great Park Ice. “And (Vaakanainen) was here this morning too. I had a chat with him before I went running out for practice. So both very encouraging in different ways.

“Trevor’s going to be an integral part of our offense and so obviously we want him on the ice. I always worry about training camp because training camp is a big thing for coaches and it’s a big thing for players. The more time you miss in camp  the harder it is to have a really good start. So at least we know Trevor is not going to miss a massive amount of camp.”

Vaakanainen went into the boards at high speed and his teammates immediately knew he was in trouble, and Derek Grant signaled to the bench for assistance.

“He went into the boards extremely hard and just that he’s up and there’s no damage anywhere else on him is incredible to me,” Eakins said. “It was just really good to see him. I told him this morning, it’s things like that that remind you of things. That young man is loved by his teammates and I thought that was really special and reassuring because I think sometimes we forget about how much people do care about us.”

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