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Canes send Darling to Checkers on conditioning stint

Carolina Hurricanes goaltender Scott Darling (33) blocks a shot by Nashville Predators center Ryan Johansen (92) during the third period of an NHL preseason hockey game Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2018, in Nashville, Tenn. The Hurricanes won 4-1.
Carolina Hurricanes goaltender Scott Darling (33) blocks a shot by Nashville Predators center Ryan Johansen (92) during the third period of an NHL preseason hockey game Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2018, in Nashville, Tenn. The Hurricanes won 4-1. AP

Carolina Hurricanes goalie Scott Darling took another step toward joining the lineup Monday, being activated off injured reserve and being assigned to the Charlotte Checkers of the AHL on a conditioning stint.

Darling, who had been placed on the NHL injured-reserve list on Oct. 3 with a lower-body injury, should play Wednesday in the Checkers’ game against the Utica Comets in Utica, N.Y., Canes coach Rod Brind’Amour said Sunday.

“I think that’s just the logical progression, make sure he can get through a game -- more for him, probably, just the mental side of things,” Brind’Amour said Sunday. “Get him physically ready to go and then he’s back hopefully to where he was before the injury.”

The Canes have a road game Monday against the Detroit Red Wings, then do not play until hosting the San Jose Sharks on Friday.

“He probably, hopefully, will be ready for that game and then we’ll make decisions at that point,” Brind’Amour said.

Darling, coming off a nightmarish first season with the Canes, lost 25 pounds in the offseason and returned in much better overall physical condition in September. He played well in preseason games but left the Canes’ final exhibition game, against the Nashville Predators on Sept. 30 with what Brind’Amour initially called a hamstring injury.

The Hurricanes claimed goalie Curtis McElhinney off waivers from the Toronto Maple Leafs to team with Petr Mrazek during Darling’s absence. McElhinney won his first three starts before taking the loss Saturday as the Canes were beaten 3-1 by the Colorado Avalanche.

Darling has returned to practice and Brind’Amour noted having three goalies is not ideal.

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