Poll: Tell us if Steven Stamkos will score 60 goals

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Steven Stamkos broke a Tampa Bay Lightning team record with his 53rd goal of the season last night, but he obviously isn’t satisfied with that. Thanks to a beauty of a wrist shot goal that caught Tim Thomas off guard, Stamkos already hit the 54 tally mark with some time left to do more damage tonight.This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!

Update: Stamkos made the job much easier by scoring a second goal on Tuesday, making it 55 and thus needing five for 60. There are still a few minutes left, too, so this post will be updated if he gets a hat trick.

NBC Sports Network provided a great infographic of how his goals have broken down so far this season, which I’ll update with Stamkos’ second tally.

Total Goals: 55 (first in NHL)
Even strength: 43 (first in NHL)
Overtime: 4 (first in NHL)
GWG: 10 (tied for first)
Goals in third period: 17

Fun-killing stats nerds would argue that some of that is circumstantial – when you score 55, plenty are going to be during big moments – but the part that impresses me the most is the 43 even-strength tallies. That shows that he isn’t just milking easy power play opportunities.

Those numbers also make you wonder what he’d do with a better team around him (although the counterpoint might be that he wouldn’t feel the need to do as much, at least theoretically).

Stamkos’ schedule for 60

Anyway, enough about what he’s already done. Let’s look at what lies ahead for Stamkos in his quest for 60 goals – keep in mind he’ll need to score six more in six games plus tonight’s remaining time. For fun, I’ve included a) how many goals Stamkos has scored against a given opponent in 2011-12 and b) how many goals that team has allowed going into Tuesday’s games.

Thursday: at New Jersey (two goals in three games; 200 Goals Allowed)
Saturday: vs. Winnipeg (two goals in four games; 223 GA)
April 2: vs. Washington (three goals in five games; 214 GA)
April 4: at Montreal (two goals in three games; 211 GA)
April 5: at Toronto (one goal in three games; 239 GA)
April 7: at Winnipeg (two goals in four games; 223 GA)

As you can see, Stamkos has already scored at least once against the six remaining opponents. Four of the six final contests are against non-playoff teams, which could be good (if those teams are in low spirits) or bad (if those teams make stopping Stamkos their only real goal).

Asking for (almost) a goal-per-game is a tough task even for Stamkos – the NHL’s most prolific goal scorer during the last three seasons – but it’s not implausible looking at that reasonable schedule.

So with all that in mind, share your thoughts in the poll: can Stamkos reach 60 goals this season?

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.