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  • NHL playoff schedule -- Stanley Cup Final
    By The Sports Xchange / Friday, May 26, 2017

    The dates and times for the 2017 Stanley Cup Final series are below. All times are Eastern.

    • Pittsburgh Penguins (Metropolitan No. 2 seed) vs. Nashville Predators (wild card No. 2)

      Monday, May 29 -- Nashville at Pittsburgh, 8 p.m.

      Wednesday, May 31 -- Nashville at Pittsburgh, 8 p.m.

      Saturday, June 3 -- Pittsburgh at Nashville, 8 p.m.

      Monday, June 5 -- Pittsburgh at Nashville, 8 p.m.

      Thursday, June 8 -- Nashville at Pittsburgh, 8 p.m. (if necessary)

      Sunday, June 11 -- Pittsburgh at Nashville, 8 p.m. (if necessary)

      Wednesday, June 14 -- Nashville at Pittsburgh, 8 p.m. (if necessary)

  • NHL notebook: Ducks' Lindholm, Vatanen need surgery
    By The Sports Xchange / Thursday, May 25, 2017

    In their season wrap-up availability after being eliminated by the Nashville Predators in the Western Conference Final, the Anaheim Ducks announced that defensemen Hampus Lindholm and Sami Vatanen will require torn labrum surgery.

    • "We're almost positive Hampus is having shoulder surgery," Ducks general manager Bob Murray said. "Sami needs surgery. He's deciding where to do it. Some can rehab these things, but we're not suggesting they do that.

      "Those two guys have bad shoulders and they played through them. You've got to give them (credit)."

      Lindholm is expected to miss four-to-five months, making his return around the end of September. Vatanen's injury is apparently more serious, and his recovery is expected to take longer.

      --The St. Louis Blues named Steve Ott an assistant coach.

      The 34-year-old played 848 NHL games from 2002 through this season, scoring 109 goals and 179 assists along with 1,555 penalty minutes using an abrasive style.

      A day earlier, the Blues tabbed another NHL veteran, Darryl Sydor, as an assistant coach. Those moves come after the Blues announced that assistant coaches Ray Bennett, Rick Wilson and Steve Thomas had been let go, along with goalie development coach Ty Conklin.

      --The Columbus Blue Jackets signed goaltender Matiss Kivlenieks to a three-year entry-level contract, the team announced.

      Kivlenieks, 20, went 36-7-4-2 with a 1.85 goals-against average, .932 save percentage and five shutouts in 49 games to help the Sioux City Musketeers capture the 2016-17 Anderson Cup as the league's regular season champions.

      He was named the United States Hockey League's Player of the Year and Goaltender of the Year.

  • Ducks defensemen Lindholm, Vatanen need surgery
    By The Sports Xchange / Thursday, May 25, 2017

    In their season wrap-up availability after being eliminated by the Nashville Predators in the Western Conference Final, the Anaheim Ducks announced that defensemen Hampus Lindholm and Sami Vatanen will require torn labrum surgery.

    • "We're almost positive Hampus is having shoulder surgery," Ducks general manager Bob Murray said. "Sami needs surgery. He's deciding where to do it. Some can rehab these things, but we're not suggesting they do that.

      "Those two guys have bad shoulders and they played through them. You've got to give them (credit)."

      The Ducks were eliminated Monday in a 6-3 loss to Nashville in Game 6.

      Lindholm is expected to miss four-to-five months, making his return around the end of September. Vatanen's injury is apparently more serious, and his recovery is expected to take longer.

      Vatanen and Lindholm both averaged over 21 minutes per night this season. They are locked into long-term contracts -- Lindholm at $5.2 million annually through 2022, Vatanen at $4.8M through 2020.

      The 23-year-old Lindholm had six goals and 14 assists and a plus-13 rating, while the 25-year-old Vatanen had three goals and 21 assists and a plus-three rating.

  • Ott named Blues assistant coach
    By The Sports Xchange / Thursday, May 25, 2017

    The St. Louis Blues named Steve Ott an assistant coach on Thursday.

    • The 34-year-old played 848 NHL games from 2002 through this season, scoring 109 goals and 179 assists along with 1,555 penalty minutes using an abrasive style.

      "Steve was a competitor on the ice as a player and I expect him to bring that energy in this role," said Blues head coach Mike Yeo. "He was highly respected as a player and a person among his teammates and I believe he will be a huge asset to our staff."

      Ott played 14 NHL seasons with Dallas, Buffalo, St. Louis, Detroit and Montreal. He served as Buffalo's captain during the 2013-14 season before being acquired by the Blues on Feb. 28, 2014.

      "I am very proud of my playing career and will devote the same work ethic to my coaching career," said Ott. "The Blues organization is very special to me and my family and I'm excited to take the next step in my hockey career with this franchise."

      A day earlier, the Blues tabbed another NHL veteran, Darryl Sydor, as an assistant coach. Sydor, who served as an assistant on Yeo's staff during his stint with the Minnesota Wild, signed a three-year contract with the Blues.

      Those moves come after the Blues announced that assistant coaches Ray Bennett, Rick Wilson and Steve Thomas had been let go, along with goalie development coach Ty Conklin.

  • Senators, Penguins think deep prior to Game 7
    By The Sports Xchange / Wednesday, May 24, 2017

    PITTSBURGH -- Game 7, such as the one the Pittsburgh Penguins and Ottawa Senators are facing Thursday in the Eastern Conference Final, brings out a lot of things.

    • Philosophers. Psychologists. Pragmatists. Or at least desperate hockey players playing armchair versions of those folks.

      With the game at PPG Paints Arena set to determine which club moves on to face Nashville in the Stanley Cup Final beginning Monday, the Penguins and Senators seem to be thinking of every possible advantage while also trying to clear their minds.

      Take, for instance, the approach from the two goaltenders.

      Pittsburgh's Matt Murray is trying to balance some tunnel vision against the fact that his team is coming off a 7-0 shellacking of Ottawa in Game 5 followed by a Game 6 in which the Penguins did what amounted to everything but win when they swarmed on offense and produced 46 shots, only to have the Senators' Craig Anderson stop 45 in a 2-1 loss.

      "I think (it's) just the fact that it's coming down to one game, and everything that's led up to now really doesn't matter," Murray said Wednesday. "But at the same time, we want to take those good feelings from the last couple games.

      "So, yeah, you just do what you need to do. You just try to worry about what you can control, and that's how we prepare and how we play. I think, if we do that, the rest will take care of itself."

      Anderson, who got pulled in Game 5 before coming back strong in Game 6, pushed the power of positive thinking.

      "It's huge," he said. "The mind is a powerful thing -- history and the scientific data behind using your brain, using visualization as a tool to get yourself better.

      "I think if you believe you're beaten, you're done already. If you believe that you can win, there's always a chance."

      The teams have clashing styles with Ottawa's methodical, smothering defensive scheme against Pittsburgh's speed and high-octane offense. Evgeni Malkin (first with 24 points), Sidney Crosby (19) Phil Kessel (18) and Jake Guentzel (16) rank in the top seven in point production this postseason, while Erik Karlsson (16) is the only Ottawa player in the top seven.

      Yet the first six games haven't necessarily favored either pattern completely.

      Further, statistics and trends often don't fall true in these make-or-break games.

      So, the fact that Ottawa is 0-5 in franchise history in Game 7s might not mean much. Same with Pittsburgh's all-time record of 3-7 at home in Game 7s. Or Pittsburgh's fresh memory of beating Washington 2-0 in Game 7 of the previous round. Or that fact that Penguins center Matt Cullen's teams are 6-0 in his Game 7s over the years.

      Cullen isn't denying that these games are different.

      "Well, I think just, obviously, the finality of it," he said. "These are the games, when you're a kid growing up, that you're playing in the backyard. So, for us as players, this is what it's all about. It's a different level of intensity. It's a different level of excitement. Obviously, when you get it, you move on."

      For Pittsburgh, falling in this Game 7 would mean failing to defend last year's Stanley Cup championship. For Ottawa, it would be a jubilant upset.

      Ottawa winger Mike Hoffman said he figures that's an advantage for his club.

      "No pressure on us," Hoffman said. "They're the ones that are favored. For us, we just go and take it as another hockey game."

      Pittsburgh might get a couple lineup reinforcements. Coach Mike Sullivan said feisty winger Patric Hornqvist and defenseman Justin Schultz could return from upper-body injuries.

  • Predators might get C Fisher back for Final
    By The Sports Xchange / Wednesday, May 24, 2017

    The Nashville Predators got past the Anaheim Ducks without their top two centers, but they might have one of them back for the start of the Stanley Cup Final.

    • Ryan Johansen has been lost for the season, but general manager David Poile said Wednesday he hopes captain Mike Fisher can practice on Thursday and added that there is "a real good chance" Fisher will be able to play in Game 1 of the Final.

      The Predators will play the winner of Thursday's Game 7 between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Ottawa Senators.

      Fisher sustained what appeared to be a head injury in Game 4 of the Western Conference Final. He missed two games, but did take part in the celebration following Game 6.

      Fisher has not scored a point in 14 games this postseason, but had 18 goals and 24 assists in 72 regular season games.

  • Red Wings sign D Sulak to entry-level contract
    By The Sports Xchange / Wednesday, May 24, 2017

    The Detroit Red Wings signed defenseman Libor Sulak to a two-year, entry-level contract on Wednesday.

    • Sulak, 23, spent the past two seasons playing for Orli Znojmo, a Czech team that competes in the Erste Bank Eishockey Liga, the top professional league in Austria.

      In 2016-17, Sulak placed fourth on the team with 28 points (10 goals, 18 assists) and a team-best plus-19 rating. He added a team-leading three goals in four postseason games.

      The 6-foot-2, 207-pound Sulak also made his debut with the Czech Republic men's national team this year, recording one assist in two games at the 2017 IIHF World Championship in Germany and France.

  • Back to basics for Senators as Pens seek clincher
    By The Sports Xchange / Monday, May 22, 2017

    OTTAWA -- Down to their last out, the Ottawa Senators plan on retreating to the style that brought them to the Eastern Conference finals.

    • That means the neutral zone should be a crowded piece of ice when the Pittsburgh Penguins look to eliminate the Senators on Tuesday night at Canadian Tire Centre.

      "We can't be sitting in our mud puddle," Senators coach Guy Boucher said Monday, less than 24 hours after a 7-0 shellacking put Ottawa behind 3-2 in the best-of-seven series. "We've got to get up and go."

      Boucher said the Senators opened up early in the Game 5 loss, and that was what got them in trouble. He has since had what he feels were productive conversations with the team about returning to a 1-3-1 defensive structure for which he has become known.

      "We went in last game trying to run and gun it with the best offensive team in the league, and that's the result we got," Boucher said. "We got slapped, and hard enough. So the reality sets back in, and we know how we have to play to give ourselves a chance. I have total confidence in them that they will, and then the game goes on, and we need to manage what we need to manage at that point."

      There exists the possibility that no matter what the Senators do, it may not be enough to stop a Penguins team that appears to be operating on all cylinders.

      Held without a point in the first two games, Pittsburgh captain Sidney Crosby scored in each of the next three. Fellow star Evgeni Malkin had three assists and was dominant in Game 5, when the Penguins had seven different goal-scorers.

      Pittsburgh coach Mike Sullivan juggled his lines so all of them have a combination of finesse and grit. The result saw the Penguins break through the security guarding the Senators' zone to score five goals from within 13 feet of the net.

      "I think it's critically important that we have that determination and play with that necessary conviction in order to give ourselves the best chance to win," Sullivan said as the Penguins try to become the first team to play in consecutive Stanley Cup finals since they and the Detroit Red Wings met in in 2008 and 2009.

      "So we talk a lot about the puck battles and the thankless jobs that you can't necessarily quantify, but they help teams win. And those thankless jobs are critically important at this time of year."

      The Senators will go back to No. 1 goalie Craig Anderson, who was pulled in Game 5 after giving up four goals on 14 shots. Boucher also said defenseman Erik Karlsson and center Derick Brassard, who were in the dressing room nursing injuries at the conclusion of the Sunday game, would be good to go.

      After frittering away a 3-1 series lead against Washington before finally winning Game 7, Pittsburgh thinks it is better prepared to close out Ottawa with the first chance.

      Crosby said the Penguins didn't play with enough desperation when they had the Capitals down.

      "We have to learn from that and make sure it's there (Tuesday) night," Crosby said. "I think that it's something that in the playoffs you have to get better and better to improve, and that's one area we've got make sure we improve on."

      The Penguins also can take confidence from the strong form of Matt Murray.

      The 22-year-old goalie has been stellar since returning to action as a sub in Game 4 vs. Ottawa after missing the first 2 1/2 rounds of the playoffs due to a lower-body injury he sustained in warmups before the postseason opener. He has stopped 68 of the 71 shots he has faced, including a 25-save shutout on Sunday.

  • Former Blackhawks D White dead at 77
    By The Sports Xchange / Monday, May 22, 2017

    Former Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Bill White, who played in six NHL All-Star games, has died at age 77.

    • The team released a statement Monday on the passing of White.

      "The Chicago Blackhawks organization extends its thoughts and heartfelt condolences to Bill White's family as we mourn his loss," the statement said. "He will be remembered as a leader, generous teammate and tough player to play against. His energetic style helped the Blackhawks see great success during his tenure with the team."

      White played with the Blackhawks from 1969-76 and spent a total of nine seasons in the NHL. He scored 30 goals and tallied 149 assists with the Blackhawks and played for Team Canada in the 1972 Summit Series.

      White appeared in six consecutive All-Star Games (1969-74) and helped the Blackhawks reach the playoffs in all seven of his seasons in Chicago. He scored 50 goals with 215 assists in 604 career NHL games.

      White began his NHL career at age 28 with the expansion of the Los Angeles Kings in 1967 after playing in the American Hockey League, receiving his break when the league expanded from six to 12 teams.

      White served as head coach of the Blackhawks for the final 46 games of the 1976-77 season. He compiled a 16-24-6 record.

  • Battle of attrition as Ducks try to stay alive vs. Predators
    By The Sports Xchange / Sunday, May 21, 2017

    NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- It has turned into a battle of attrition in the Western Conference Finals.

    • One more loss and the Anaheim Ducks will have until September to rest. One more win and the Nashville Predators clinch their first trip to the Stanley Cup Finals.

      Saturday night's 3-1 defeat to the equally shorthanded Nashville Predators put Anaheim in a 3-2 hole, requiring it to win Game 6 Monday night in the cauldron of noise known as Bridgestone Arena.

      In their second elimination game of the postseason, the Ducks edged Edmonton 2-1 in Game 7 of the conference semifinals on May 10. This time, the Ducks will have to go without 30-goal scorers Rickard Rakell and Patrick Eaves.

      Both stayed back in Orange County with lower-body injuries.

      Goalie John Gibson also has a lower-body injury, which knocked him out of the last two periods of Game 5. Gibson said after the game he would play in Game 6, but coach Randy Carlyle was more cautious when the team arrived late Sunday afternoon in Nashville, saying Gibson would be reevaluated in the morning.

      Regardless, Carlyle is confident his team can bring the series back to Anaheim for Game 7 Wednesday night, and why not? After all, the Ducks snapped the Predators' 10-game home playoff winning streak in Game 4 Thursday night with a 3-2 overtime decision.

      "We have won in Nashville before, and there is no reason we cannot go into that building and win on Monday," Carlyle said.

      It was at Bridgestone where Anaheim played its best game of the series in Game 4, outshooting Nashville 14-2 in the first period and 36-33 for the game. But that was with a healthy Rakell, whose blistering slapper initiated scoring that night.

      Of course, the Predators can be excused for having zero sympathy for the Ducks' injury issues.

      Consider that they won Game 5 with their top two centers, Ryan Johansen (compartment syndrome surgery in left thigh) and Mike Fisher (undisclosed injury), on the shelf, and have played the entire series without Craig Smith (undisclosed) and Kevin Fiala (fractured leg).

      It's not known if Fisher or Smith will be available Monday night, but Nashville didn't exactly look like a team searching for answers with all those guys out of action.

      Pontus Aberg drew back into the lineup and scored the winning goal just over midway through the third period for his first playoff goal, while Frederick Gaudreau played well defensively and had a winning record on faceoffs, going 10-4 in his first playoff match.

      Gaudreau became the team's 18th forward to play in the postseason, tying an NHL record. Aberg and Austin Watson, who sealed the outcome with an empty-netter in the last minute, are the 16th and 17th Predators to score goals in the playoffs.

      It was the latest example of how depth is driving this team to heights it's never reached before.

      "Whatever 20 guys we have going out there, we're fully confident in the group we have going," Watson said. "For guys like Freddie Gaudreau to come out and play the way that he did, for guys to just step up and maybe take on some more minutes, that was a huge win for us tonight."

  • Preds' Johansen diagnosed with rare syndrome
    By The Sports Xchange / Sunday, May 21, 2017

    Nashville Predators forward Ryan Johansen is recovering from emergency surgery after he sustained a serious left thigh injury during Game 4 of the Western Conference finals against the Anaheim Ducks on Thursday.

    • An update from the Predators on Sunday indicated the seriousness of Johansen's condition before the procedure and identified the injury.

      The 24-year-old Johansen is out for the remainder of the playoffs. His recovery is expected to take two to three months.

      "On Thursday, Ryan Johansen was treated for an acute compartment syndrome of the left thigh," Predators general manager David Poile said in a statement. "Rapid diagnosis and treatment are critical to prevent complications.

      "His symptoms developed shortly after the end of Game 4 in Nashville, and as they progressed, he was diagnosed, transported to Vanderbilt University Medical Center and had surgery performed by head team physician Dr. Jed Kuhn within two hours of his diagnosis. As a result, he had no permanent injury to his muscle, nerves or blood vessels and we expect a full and complete recovery."

      It's uncertain when Johansen suffered the injury, but he managed to finish the game.

      "At some point, Ryan sustained an injury, was able to make it through the game," Predators coach Peter Laviolette said. "And then upon further assessment, had to move on from there with the doctors."

      Johansen was leading the team with 13 points (three goals, 10 assists) in the playoffs. The Predators are up 3-2 in the best-of-seven series after winning Game 5 on Saturday at Anaheim.

      "I am forever thankful for the support and well wishes I have received the past few days," Johansen tweeted. "Feeling much better now."

      During the regular season, Johansen collected 14 goals and 47 assists to tie for the team lead with 61 points while playing in all 82 regular-season games.

      Johansen has scored 101 goals and set up 187 others in 433 career games with Columbus and Nashville since being selected by the Blue Jackets with the fourth overall pick of the 2010 draft.

      Saturday's Game 5 was the first game that Johansen missed since coming to Nashville in a trade with Columbus in January 2016.

  • Ducks G Gibson exits with apparent injury
    By The Sports Xchange / Saturday, May 20, 2017

    ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Anaheim Ducks backup goalie Jonathan Bernier replaced John Gibson at the start of the second period in Saturday's Game 5 of the Western Conference finals against the Nashville Predators, apparently due to an injury.

    • Gibson wasn't on the bench later in the period, but the team made no immediate announcement about his status.

      He had stopped all 10 shots he faced in the contest before exiting. Coming into the contest, he was 9-5 with a 2.65 goals-against average and a .917 save percentage in the postseason.

      Bernier appeared in two previous playoff games this year, going 1-0 with a 2.82 goals against average and a .911 save percentage.

  • Ducks F Rakell out for Game 5
    By The Sports Xchange / Saturday, May 20, 2017

    Anaheim Ducks forward Rickard Rakell will miss Game 5 of the Western Conference final against the visiting Nashville Predators on Saturday with a lower-body injury.

    • Rakell has collected seven goals and six assists in 15 playoff games for Anaheim, which entered Saturday's tilt tied 2-2 in the series. The 24-year-old Swede led the team with a career-high 33 goals this season to go along with 18 assists.

      Rookie left wing Nic Kerdiles likely will draw in for Rakell. The 23-year-old has yet to record a point in one regular-season game this season and two playoff contests.

  • Pivotal Game 5 on top for Senators, Penguins
    By The Sports Xchange / Saturday, May 20, 2017

    PITTSBURGH -- If patterns always held true, the Ottawa Senators could be assured of winning Game 5 of the Eastern Conference final on Sunday at PPG Paints Arena, simply because it's their turn.

    • The Senators won Games 1 and 3 in the best-of-seven series, with the Pittsburgh Penguins taking Games 2 and 4. Each team is 1-1 at home and on the road.

      Neither team, however, is willing to take anything for granted.

      "Well, we're at where we're at, 2-2," Ottawa defenseman Dion Phaneuf said Saturday, a travel day for both clubs with no practice for either. "The way you look at the series is we expected it to be a tough, long series, as we've expected the other series that we played in."

      This one is going at least six games, and that's if one of the teams can win two in row for the first time. Otherwise, it will end in Game 7, scheduled for Thursday in Pittsburgh if needed.

      The Penguins will be looking to break the pattern of alternating wins and be the first this series to win two straight following a 3-2 victory on Friday at Canadian Tire Centre.

      "We need to find a way to maintain that sense of urgency, that desperation," Pittsburgh center and captain Sidney Crosby said. "We're deeper into the series now, so that's got to be there.

      "I think seeing the way we played (Friday), hopefully that's something we can build off of."

      Not if the Senators can help it. They don't want any momentum to carry over.

      "You think, 'Oh, they played a great game, so the next game they're going to win,'" Ottawa coach Guy Boucher said. "They don't. It's just because the other team has push-back. It's all about desperation at this time of the year."

      While both teams have dealt with injuries, Pittsburgh, in particular, has had to overcome a depleted defensive corps. The Penguins have almost gotten used to -- although they are not thrilled about -- playing with only five defensemen because of injuries.

      On Friday, it was Chad Ruhwedel who left the game. He has been diagnosed with a concussion, which would make playing in Game 6 seem like a longshot. Veteran Mark Streit probably will slot in.

      "Obviously, you don't want to be doing that," Penguins defenseman Olli Maatta said of rotating five defensemen. "It's going to wear you down during the playoffs."

      Pittsburgh has played all of the postseason without Kris Letang (neck disk surgery) and has not had Justin Schultz (upper body) the last two games. Schultz's status for Sunday is unclear, as is that of Penguins forwards Patric Hornqvist (upper body), Bryan Rust (upper body) and Tom Kuhnhackl (lower body).

      Ottawa's injury situation looks brighter. Alex Burrows, who left Game 3 because of a lower-body injury, and defenseman Mark Borowiecki, out since the first round of the playoffs because of a lower-body injury, are possibilities to return.

      While the injury status trend is one that favors Ottawa, the winner Sunday will have highly favorable odds on its side. According to the NHL, the Game 5 winner of a 2-2 series has gone on to claim that series 198 of 252 times, a .786 winning percentage, including 5-0 this postseason.

      There is one other pattern of sorts that Boucher sees in the series. Wins have come honestly, and neither team has stolen one.

      "I just think you look at the last four games, there was no luck involved," Boucher said. "Two games we won, we deserved. Two games they won, they deserved."

  • Talk isn't cheap: NHL fines Ducks' Getzlaf $10,000
    By The Sports Xchange / Saturday, May 20, 2017

    Forward Ryan Getzlaf of the Anaheim Ducks was fined $10,000 for directing an inappropriate remark toward another participant in Thursday's Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Western Conference Final against the Nashville Predators, the National Hockey League announced on Saturday.

    • It is the maximum fine permitted under the NHL/NHLPA Collective Bargaining Agreement.

      Getzlaf's comment is a violation of the NHL's policy which prohibits inappropriate and offensive remarks, and the use of obscene, profane or abusive language or gestures.

      "Getzlaf's comment in Thursday's game, particularly as directed to another individual on the ice, was inappropriately demeaning and disrespectful, and crossed the line into behavior that we deem unacceptable," said Colin Campbell, the NHL's Senior Executive Vice President of Hockey Operations.

      "The type of language chosen and utilized in this instance will not be tolerated in the National Hockey League."

      The money goes to the Players' Emergency Assistance Fund.

  • Sharks' Ward undergoes shoulder surgery
    By The Sports Xchange / Friday, May 19, 2017

    San Jose Sharks forward Joel Ward underwent surgery on his right shoulder after the season and is expected to be ready for training camp in September, general manager Doug Wilson said on Friday.

    • Ward recorded 29 points (10 goals, 19 assists) in 78 regular-season games and added four points (one goal, three assists) in San Jose's first-round playoff loss to the Edmonton Oilers.

      The 36-year-old has one year remaining on his contract with San Jose, carrying a $3.275 million salary cap hit.

      "Joel was dealing with a minor shoulder injury last season and, once the season ended, had a choice to either rehab the injury or to have a surgical procedure," Wilson said in a statement. "Joel opted to proceed with the surgical procedure, which was completed successfully, and he is expected to be ready for the start of the 2017 season."

      Ward scored 128 goals and set up 164 others in 674 career contests with the Minnesota Wild, Nashville Predators, Washington Capitals and Sharks.

  • Predators face adversity ahead of Game 5 vs. Ducks
    By The Sports Xchange / Friday, May 19, 2017

    ANAHEIM, Calif. -- The Nashville Predators' magic carpet ride through the 2017 Stanley Cup playoffs encountered major turbulence when they announced Friday that Ryan Johansen will miss the remainder of the playoffs with a left thigh injury.

    • The injury to Johansen, the team's leading scorer, was sustained in Nashville's 3-2 overtime loss to the Anaheim Ducks on Wednesday which evened the Western Conference Final at two victories apiece. Johansen underwent surgery in Nashville on Friday and the Predators estimated his recovery time to be in the range of two to three months.

      Johansen collected 13 points (three goals, 10 assists) through 14 games, registered a team-best 54.3 percent faceoff win percentage and his average ice time (20:45) was second only to linemate Filip Forsberg among Nashville forwards.

      With captain Mike Fisher's status unknown for Game 5, the Predators could be down to their two top centers in an evenly played series.

      The Predators rolled through the first two rounds with little adversity, so this injury news will be the first major test for them given their lack of productivity at center behind Johansen. Fisher has yet to score a point in the playoffs and third-line center Calle Jarnkrok has registered a goal and an assist in 13 games.

      With the Ducks already holding a significant matchup advantage at center with captain Ryan Getzlaf, Ryan Kesler, Antoine Vermette and Nate Thompson manning the middle, coach Randy Carlyle will look to exploit it as Anaheim tries to take one step closer to a Stanley Cup Final berth. Their last appearance was 10 years ago when they defeated the Ottawa Senators in five games to capture the franchise's lone Stanley Cup.

      The Ducks evened the series with a 3-2 overtime victory on Thursday on Corey Perry's third overtime goal of the playoffs, matching the NHL record for most OT tallies in a playoff year with Mel Hill in 1939 and Maurice Richard in 1951.

      Carlyle was behind the bench for the 2007 Cup victory and feels that the performance by players at two positions will determine the series winner.

      "If our goaltender can outplay their goaltender, then our chances go up dramatically," Carlyle said. "If our centermen can outplay their centermen, our chances go up dramatically."

      Despite missing an opportunity to take a commanding lead in the series had they completed the rally from a two-goal third period deficit, Predators winger James Neal knows his team has plenty of fight left in them.

      "It's 2-2. Nothing's going to be easy," Neal said. "That's why it's the Stanley Cup is the hardest trophy to win in sports. And we should be confident in our group. We have a chance to go in their rink, win a game, and come back with a chance to win in our home building. So put a smile on our face, enjoy it, get ready, and feel good about a tough game in their rink and what can come from that."

      The Predators will need goaltender Pekka Rinne to revert to the form he displayed in the two series wins over Chicago and St. Louis if they are to secure their first Stanley Cup Final appearance. Rinne posted a .951 save percentage in the first two rounds but has plummeted to .911 against Anaheim. Given that Rinne's season percentage was .918, it is incumbent upon the Predators' defense to limit the number of shots the Finnish netminder faces.

      Rinne claims to have put the Game 4 loss behind him and knows he will need to be at his best behind a short-handed team.

      "Game 4 has to be behind us already, and we have to focus on the next one," Rinne said. "That was a missed opportunity, but we battled back, and obviously didn't have a good start. We did not a good first period but we battled back and showed a lot of character."

  • NHL notebook: Predators' Johansen out for playoffs
    By The Sports Xchange / Friday, May 19, 2017

    Nashville Predators center Ryan Johansen will miss the remainder of the playoffs due to a left thigh injury sustained in Game 4 of the Western Conference final against the Anaheim Ducks.

    • Johansen underwent emergency surgery Thursday night at Vanderbilt Medical Center after sustaining the injury in Nashville's 3-2 overtime loss to Anaheim. The 24-year-old is expected to recover in two to three months.

      Johansen has a team-leading 13 points (three goals, 10 assists) in 14 playoffs games for the Predators, who will travel to the Honda Center for Game 5 on Saturday. The series is tied 2-2.

      The loss of Johansen could prove critical since Nashville has little depth at the center position. Captain Mike Fisher and fellow centers Calle Jarnkrok and Colton Sissons combined for 83 points during the regular season.

      --Predators captain Mike Fisher exited Thursday night's Game 4 of the Western Conference final with an undisclosed injury and did not return.

      Fisher appeared to be hurt late in the third period of Nashville's 3-2 overtime loss to the visiting Ducks. He did not play in the extra session.

      Predators coach Peter Laviolette said after the game that the 36-year-old Fisher was under evaluation.

      Fisher got tangled up with Ducks defenseman Josh Manson, who jumped high in the air to swat a puck away from the front of his net.

      --Pittsburgh Penguins coach Mike Sullivan is making a change in the net, announcing goaltender Matt Murray would start Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Ottawa Senators.

      The Penguins, who trail in a playoff series for the first time all postseason, will go with Murray over Marc-Andre Fleury, who allowed four goals on nine shots in a 5-1 loss in Game 3 on Wednesday night as the Senators took a 2-1 series lead.

      "That's been a hard decision for this coaching staff all year long," Sullivan told reporters Friday morning. "As I said yesterday, it's a good difficult decision to have because we have two guys who are as capable as they are. Both of these guys have helped this team win all year long. They're both high-quality people and they're high-quality goaltenders. We never take these decisions lightly. They're extremely difficult decisions. This is the choice that we made for Game 4."

  • Predators' Johansen will miss rest of playoffs
    By The Sports Xchange / Friday, May 19, 2017

    Nashville Predators center Ryan Johansen will miss the remainder of the playoffs due to a left thigh injury sustained in Game 4 of the Western Conference final against the Anaheim Ducks.

    • Johansen underwent emergency surgery Thursday night at Vanderbilt Medical Center after sustaining the injury in Nashville's 3-2 overtime loss to Anaheim. The 24-year-old is expected to recover in two to three months.

      Johansen has a team-leading 13 points (three goals, 10 assists) in 14 playoffs games for the Predators, who will travel to the Honda Center for Game 5 on Saturday. The series is tied 2-2.

      The loss of Johansen could prove critical since Nashville has little depth at the center position. Captain Mike Fisher and fellow centers Calle Jarnkrok and Colton Sissons combined for 83 points during the regular season.

      Johansen collected 14 goals and 47 assists while playing in all 82 regular-season games in 2016-17. He has scored 101 goals and set up 187 others in 433 career contests with Columbus and Nashville since being selected by the Blue Jackets with the fourth overall pick of the 2010 draft.

  • Penguins tab Murray to start in goal
    By The Sports Xchange / Friday, May 19, 2017

    Pittsburgh Penguins coach Mike Sullivan is making a change in the net, announcing goaltender Matt Murray would start Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals on Friday night against the Ottawa Senators.

    • The Penguins, who trail in a playoff series for the first time all postseason, will go with Murray over Marc-Andre Fleury, who allowed four goals on nine shots in a 5-1 loss in Game 3 on Wednesday night as the Senators took a 2-1 series lead.

      "That's been a hard decision for this coaching staff all year long," Sullivan told reporters Friday morning. "As I said yesterday, it's a good difficult decision to have because we have two guys who are as capable as they are. Both of these guys have helped this team win all year long. They're both high-quality people and they're high-quality goaltenders. We never take these decisions lightly. They're extremely difficult decisions. This is the choice that we made for Game 4."

      Murray allowed one goal the rest of the way after replacing Fleury in Game 3.

      This will be Murray's first start of the postseason due to a lower-body injury he re-aggravated during warmup before the first game of the playoffs against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

      A year ago in the playoffs, the 22-year-old Murray helped lead the Penguins to a Stanley Cup with a 15-6 record, posting a .923 save percentage.

      Both goalies skated Friday morning at the University of Ottawa's Minto Sports Complex.

      Fleury, 32, has a 9-6 record with a .924 save percentage in the postseason.

      "Marc was a professional like he always is," Sullivan said of Fleury being told of the decision. "Both of these guys handled the decision we made extremely professional. As we always say to them, these guys are both competitors. They both want to be in the net. We don't always expect them to agree with our decisions.

      "Our hope is that they respect our decision. Both of them have always been professional. They're competitors. I understand. They want to be in the net. That's what makes them as good as they are. As I said, these decisions are very difficult. That's the choice that we made."

      Also out Friday night for the Penguins will be defenseman Justin Schultz (upper-body injury) and forwards Bryan Rust (upper body), Patric Hornqvist (upper body) and Tom Kuhnhackl (lower body).

  • Predators' Fisher 'under evaluation'
    By The Sports Xchange / Friday, May 19, 2017

    Nashville Predators captain Mike Fisher exited Thursday night's Game 4 of the Western Conference final with an undisclosed injury and did not return.

    • Fisher appeared to be hurt late in the third period of Nashville's 3-2 overtime loss to the visiting Anaheim Ducks. He did not play in the extra session.

      Predators coach Peter Laviolette said after the game that the 36-year-old Fisher was under evaluation.

      Fisher got tangled up with Ducks defenseman Josh Manson, who jumped high in the air to swat a puck away from the front of his net.

      Manson had his glove pressed down on the back of Fisher's helmet as he went airborne and his momentum carried him forward. Manson tumbled over a kneeling teammate Hampus Lindholm while his left leg made contact with the side of Fisher's head.

      Fisher, who is married to singer Carrie Underwood, had 18 goals and 24 assists during the regular season but has been held without a point in the playoffs.

      The series is tied at two games apiece with Game 5 set for Anaheim on Saturday night.

  • Penguins switch goalies for pivotal game versus Senators
    By The Sports Xchange / Thursday, May 18, 2017

    OTTAWA -- Pittsburgh Penguins coach Mike Sullivan kept the identity of his goalie quiet before finally revealing it on Friday.

    • It will be Matt Murray between the pipes when the Penguins and Ottawa Senators meet in the crucial Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals.

      Murray gave up one goal on 20 shots in relief in Game 3 while seeing his first postseason action since guiding Pittsburgh to the Stanley Cup in 2016. He was tabbed over Marc-Andre Fleury, who had started every playoff game for the Penguins this spring but was yanked in Game 3 after giving up four goals on the nine shots he faced.

      "That's been a hard decision for this coaching staff all year long," Sullivan told reporters Friday morning. "As I said yesterday, it's a good difficult decision to have because we have two guys who are as capable as they are. Both of these guys have helped this team win all year long.

      "They're both high-quality people and they're high-quality goaltenders. We never take these decisions lightly. They're extremely difficult decisions. This is the choice that we made for Game 4."

      Murray had been sidelined with a lower-body injury prior to his return on Wednesday.

      "It felt good to be back in there, but at the same time, I don't think I would say I needed (the work)," Murray said. "You don't need to play all the time to be good. You have to play like you haven't missed a beat, with no hesitation."

      The Senators, who will be looking to extend their home winning streak to five games, are just two victories from getting to their first Stanley Cup finals in a decade. They are surprising a lot of people with a 10-5 record in the playoffs but not themselves.

      "I think I'd be lying to you if I told you I would have bet the house on it, but, no, we're a confident group," Senators defenseman Chris Wideman said. "We believe in ourselves to the fullest extent."

      Ottawa winger Bobby Ryan said the 5-1 victory over the defending champs in Game 3 on Wednesday will not disrupt the Senators' focus on the present.

      "I don't want to say last game was a statement or anything," Ryan said. "I think we had a good start and they had a poor one. You certainly take that for what it's worth, and you move on because Game 4 is not going to be that. It's not going to happen again.

      "They're a veteran team. They're a team that's been through it. They'll recognize that, and they're going to have a push. So we'll be ready."

      Meanwhile, the Penguins will try again to solve Senators goalie Craig Anderson, against whom they have just three goals in three games.

      "I think the chances have been there," said Penguins center Sidney Crosby, who scored his first goal of the series in the third period Wednesday. "We've hit some posts and had some good looks. So, I think just make sure we're hungry.

      "I think, when it's not going in for you, you've just got to keep it simple and make sure you keep getting pucks to the net, keep getting guys there, and make sure we're competing in and around the net."

  • Sullivan promoted to Coyotes assistant general manager
    By The Sports Xchange / Thursday, May 18, 2017

    Steve Sullivan signed a multi-year contract to serve as the Arizona Coyotes' assistant general manager, the team announced on Thursday.

    • "Steve has done an excellent job in his role as our director of player development and he is very deserving of this promotion," said Coyotes GM John Chayka. "Steve is a Coyotes alumni who has played over 1,000 games in the NHL. He offers a unique and important perspective to our staff. I'm confident that he's ready to take on this new role with increased responsibilities and I look forward to working with him."

      Sullivan, 42, joined the Coyotes hockey operations department in September 2014 as the team's development coach. On May, 26, 2016, he was promoted to director of player development. In his new role, Sullivan will serve as the general manager for the AHL Tucson Roadrunners in addition to overseeing the Coyotes' amateur player development staff.

      "I'm very excited about my new role with the Coyotes," said Sullivan. "I'm very grateful to John for his belief in me and look forward to helping him build a winning team in the Valley for years to come. We have a great nucleus of young, talented players in our organization and an extremely bright future ahead."

      Prior to joining the Coyotes front office, Sullivan played 16 seasons in the NHL with the New Jersey Devils, Toronto Maple Leafs, Chicago Blackhawks, Nashville Predators, Pittsburgh Penguins and the Coyotes, scoring 290 goals and 457 assists in 1,011 career NHL games.

      Chris O'Hearn will continue to serve as the Coyotes assistant GM of hockey operations, Jake Goldberg will take over as the team's director of hockey operations and Dave Griffiths will serve as the club's director of team services.

  • Islanders name Richardson as assistant coach
    By The Sports Xchange / Thursday, May 18, 2017

    The New York Islanders announced on Thursday that Luke Richardson will serve as an assistant coach under Doug Weight.

    • Richardson was an assistant coach with the Ottawa Senators from 2009-12 before residing as head coach of the team's American Hockey League affiliate in Binghamton from 2012-16. He also coached Canada's national team to the 2016 Spengler Cup championship and a runner-up finish at the Deutchland Cup while serving as an assistant.

      "Luke brings a tireless work ethic and outstanding character to our organization," Weight said. "He'll have his hands on every aspect of the team, including our systems, skill development and team culture. Luke's coaching experience, including four years running an organization as head coach in Binghamton, make him an excellent addition to our staff."

      Richardson collected 201 points (35 goals, 166 assists) in 1,417 NHL games while playing with six different teams from 1987-2008. The defenseman also won a gold with Team Canada at the 1994 World Championship and a silver medal in 1996.

      Weight, who saw the interim tag taken off his job title on April 12, took over with 40 games remaining in the 2016-17 season. From that day -- Jan. 19 -- to the end of the regular season, the Islanders posted the best record in the NHL with 24 wins and 52 points.

  • NHL notebook: Pens' Hornqvist, Rust, Schultz out vs. Senators
    By The Sports Xchange / Wednesday, May 17, 2017

    Pittsburgh Penguins forwards Patric Hornqvist and Bryan Rust and defenseman Justin Schultz were ruled out with upper-body injuries for Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Final against the Ottawa Senators at Canadian Tire Centre on Wednesday night.

    • The series is tied at one victory apiece after the Penguins posted a 1-0 win in Game 2 in Pittsburgh on Monday. Rust and Schultz were injured in that contest, while Hornqvist sat out the game.

      "They'll all be out for tonight, but they're day-to-day with upper-body injuries," coach Mike Sullivan said of the trio.

      Defenseman Trevor Daley is expected to participate in pregame warmups on Wednesday, with Sullivan telling reporters that the 33-year-old will be a game-time decision after missing four contests with a lower-body injury.

      --The Nashville Predators signed defenseman Andrew O'Brien to a one-year, two-way contract for the 2017-18 season.

      The deal is worth $650,000 at the NHL level and $62,500 at the American Hockey League level, the Predators announced.

      O'Brien, 24, was acquired by the Predators on Jan. 19 from Anaheim and appeared in 32 games with the AHL's Milwaukee Admirals in 2016-17, recording two goals, eight assists and 36 penalty minutes. He also skated in 10 games for the AHL's San Diego Gulls, posting two assists.

      The 6-foot-4, 208-pound O'Brien appeared in 167 career AHL games, totaling 40 points (12 goals, 28 assists) and 216 penalty minutes.

      --The Anaheim Ducks signed defenseman Josh Mahura to a three-year, entry-level contract.

      Mahura, 19, recorded 53 points (17 goals, 36 assists) and 57 penalty minutes in 73 games this season with Regina and Red Deer of the Western Hockey League. He set career highs in goals, assists, points and games.

      The 6-foot, 189-pound Mahura helped Regina to its first 50-win season as the club reached the WHL championship series against Seattle. He tallied eight goals and 13 assists in 23 playoff games.

      --The Edmonton Oilers signed goaltender Dylan Wells to a three-year, entry-level contract.

      Wells, 19, just completed his third season with the Peterborough Petes of the Ontario Hockey League, helping his team reach the conference finals.

      Wells appeared in a career high 52 games during the 2016-17 regular season, registering a 3.07 goals-against average and .916 save percentage. He tied for third in the OHL with 33 wins.