Holtby: Justin Williams ‘doesn’t get rattled’ and that’s a difficult quality to find


Justin Williams has been there, done that.

He’s earned the reputation of Mr. Game 7, but his point producing prowess in the playoffs goes beyond just the deciding game of a series.

At 35 years of age, he’s now up to 35 goals and 87 points in 128 career post-season games. He added to his goal total Thursday, scoring twice to help the Washington Capitals come back and defeat a spirited Toronto Maple Leafs team 3-2 in overtime.

The Capitals looked nervous in the beginning, missing on passes and falling behind by two goals before the midway point of the opening period, which is to the full credit of the young and talented Maple Leafs. But Williams and the Capitals struck on the power play less than three minutes after Toronto’s second goal and that seemed to calm the home team, which won the Presidents’ Trophy and is a Stanley Cup favorite entering this series.

“He’s been there before,” goalie Braden Holtby said of Williams to reporters.

“That helps. He’s a competitive guy. He knows when the game’s on the line. He doesn’t get rattled by certain things, where as some guys do. You don’t find that quality in a lot of guys. And that’s a big reason why he’s part of our team.”

Understandably, Capitals head coach Barry Trotz wasn’t happy with his team’s performance through the first half of the game. In speaking to reporters, he said the one thing he did notice, even as Washington struggled, was there wasn’t “any panic” on the bench.

“I think he was a pretty calming affect on our group,” said Trotz of Williams. “Even on the bench, he always says the right things.”

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

Rasmus Sandin
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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.