Still perfect: Price stones Rangers, Habs move to 5-0

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With a storied franchise like Montreal, records don’t get set very often.

Which made Thursday night pretty special.

For the first time in franchise history the Habs are off to a 5-0 start, courtesy a 3-0 win over the Rangers at the Bell Centre.

Carey Price stopped all 24 shots faced for his first shutout of the year, continuing a string of impressive play which has seen him record four wins in four tries this season, not allowing more than two goals in a single outing.

One of those 24 saves, of course, was the jaw-dropper on Rick Nash in the video above.

Not bad.

Price wasn’t the only Canadien with a strong performance on the night. Tomas Fleischmann potted the game-winner midway through the middle frame — his second goal of the year — while Dale Weise and Tomas Plekanec added the insurance markers, the latter an empty-netter.

For the Rangers, tonight’s game marks the second in a row where the offense sputtered.

The club wasted a great effort from Henrik Lundqvist (29 saves on 31 shots) and now has just one goal over its last 120 minutes, scored way back in the first period of Tuesday’s loss to Winnipeg.

Of course, that lack of offensive output isn’t all on New York.

They’ve faced some good goaltending over the last two games, starting with Michael Hutchinson two nights ago and continuing with Price this evening.

As for Montreal, the club is riding a high.

Price is playing up to his usual high standards, the offense is being spread around nicely (eight different players have scored now) and history bodes well. Per CBC, the last three Montreal teams to start the year 4-0 went on to win the Stanley Cup — so in that light, this 5-0 start could be the beginning of something special.

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.