Theodore injured, Markstrom recalled, Clemmensen to start for Florida

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The bizarre Panthers goaltending situation got even stranger on Tuesday as the Panthers took the morning skate — without starting netminder Jose Theodore.

In his stead, AHL San Antonio Jacob Markstrom was on the ice, meaning Scott Clemmensen will start in tonight’s massive Game 6 against the New Jersey Devils.

This is the latest spin on Florida’s goaltending carousel. Prior to Theodore’s injury, Panthers head coach Kevin Dineen had been playing coy with his netminders — he only announced his Game 1 starter, Theodore, hours before puck drop, then switched to Clemmensen in Game 4.

When that backfired (Clemmensen lost, 4-0) Dineen went back to Theodore in Game 5 and the veteran responded well, stopping all 30 shots faced for his first playoff shutout since 2004.

Some things to consider:

— Clemmensen confirmed he’s starting, according to Rich Chere of the New Jersey Star-Ledger.

— Dineen, coy as ever, refused to rule Theodore out, only saying that he missed the morning skate because he was “tender.”

George Richards of the Miami Herald has been told Theodore’s injury is “not serious.”

From NHL.com’s Dan Rosen: “Clemmensen was told a day ago to be ready for the start. He was surprised, but says he is ready and it helps he has played in this series.”

— Dineen was full of praise for Theodore after Game 5. “For me that’s Theo. That’s what I expected,” the first-year coach said. “A true professional.”

— As we’ve mentioned on several occasions, Clemmensen’s playoff experience is minimal. Coming into this year he’d played seven minutes of postseason hockey and in his first-ever career playoff start, he was bombed for four goals on 27 shots.

— Markstrom’s NHL body of work is limited (eight games), but he did look impressive. The lanky Swede posted his first career shutout against the Isles in October, then proceeded to stop 40 of 41 shots the next night out against Montreal.

Unfortunately, that was his last win. Markstrom’s lost the last four games he’s played in.

Blackhawks’ Boris Katchouk 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.

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.