Tonight’s great goalie performances: Thomas earns 7th win, Chris Mason stops 52 shots

While Brent Johnson’s great start to the season is coming to a screeching halt in Dallas, two other goalies played excellent hockey tonight. The first performer shouldn’t come as a surprise while the second one might raise a few eyebrows.

  • Gosh, Tim Thomas is really slipping isn’t he? He brought a .50 GAA into tonight’s game but allowed four times that many (two) tonight. Jeez, what a slacker.

In all seriousness, Thomas put another great performance together, stopping 33 out of 35 shots to help the Bruins beat the woeful Buffalo Sabres 5-2. He is now an amazing 7-0 to start the 2010-11 season, even if his numbers went from “impossible” to “improbable.”

  • When I think of goalies who fly under the radar, I think of Tomas Vokoun and Chris Mason. Normally, I would expect Vokoun to produce the better performance, but tonight Mason was probably the best goalie in the NHL.

He made a staggering 52 saves tonight to help the Atlanta Thrashers eek out a 4-3 win over the Florida Panthers.

To give you an idea of how much of a difference maker Mason was, the former Predators goalie faced as many shots (23) in the second period as Vokoun did in the entire game. Despite being out-shot 23-5 in that period, Mason helped the Thrashers keep the game tied 2-2. Those 55 shots tied a Florida Panthers record set against the Washington Capitals on December 18, 2005, yet Mason helped Atlanta steal the game.

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    Blackhawks F Katchouk will be sidelined by ankle sprain

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    CHICAGO — Blackhawks forward Boris Katchouk will be sidelined for four to six weeks with a left ankle sprain, the team announced Sunday.

    The 24-year-old Katchouk played almost 12 minutes during a 3-0 preseason loss to Detroit on Saturday night. He was acquired in a multiplayer trade with Tampa Bay in March.

    The Blackhawks open the season on Oct. 12 at Colorado.

    The team also said forward Jujhar Khaira is day to day with a right ankle injury.

    Ducks’ Urho Vaakanainen crashes into boards, leaves on stretcher

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    ANAHEIM, Calif. — Ducks defenseman Urho Vaakanainen was taken off the Honda Center ice on a stretcher after he crashed into the end boards in the first period of Anaheim’s preseason game against the San Jose Sharks.

    The Finnish defenseman was conscious and alert with full movement in his extremities at UCI Medical Center, the Ducks said.

    The frightening incident occurred midway through the opening period when Vaakanainen smashed into the boards at a dangerous speed behind the Sharks’ net. Vaakanainen appeared to be concentrating on the pass he had just made to Derek Grant, who scored the Ducks’ opening goal on the assist.

    Vaakanainen’s teammates came onto the ice and gathered around him as he was taken away on the stretcher.

    The Ducks acquired the 23-year-old Vaakanainen from Boston last March in the deal that sent longtime Ducks defenseman Hampus Lindholm to the Bruins. After recording two assists in 14 games for the Ducks last season, Vaakanainen is attempting to win a top-six role on Anaheim’s defense this fall.

    Lightning donate $2 million to Hurricane Ian relief efforts

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    TAMPA, Fla. — The Tampa Bay Lightning and team owner Jeff Vinik are donating $2 million toward Hurricane Ian relief efforts.

    The NHL team announced that $1 million each will be donated by the Tampa Bay Lightning Foundation and the Vinik Family Foundation.

    “This is a tragic situation for many families and communities across the state of Florida, but especially so in the southwest region of the state,” Vinik said in a statement released by the team. “In times like these the most important thing we can do is support one another, and we hope this donation will help families recover and rebuild in the months to come.”

    Ian made landfall Wednesday on Florida’s Gulf Coast, south of the Tampa Bay area. The Lightning postponed two home preseason games and moved the club’s training camp to Nashville, Tennessee, during the storm.

    Maple Leafs sign defenseman Rasmus Sandin to 2-year deal

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    TORONTO — Rasmus Sandin has signed a two-year, $2.8 million contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs, the club announced on Thursday.

    The 22-year-old from Sweden was the 29th overall selection in the 2018 draft. Sandin had 16 points in 51 games with Toronto last season. He’s played in 88 career regular-season games, with six goals and 22 assists, and has one goal in five playoff games.

    “Got a great set of tools,” fellow defenseman Jake Muzzin said. “With experience, I think they’re only going to get better.”

    The signing comes as the Leafs’ blueliners been hit hard by injuries. Muzzin has been dealing with a back issue, and Timothy Liljegren recently had surgery for a hernia.

    Toronto then lost Jamie Benn (groin) and Carl Dahlstrom (shoulder) in Wednesday’s 3-0 preseason victory over the Montreal Canadiens, pressing forwards Calle Jarnkrok and Alexander Kerfoot into defensive roles for two periods.