The PHT Nightcap: Monday, August 2nd

Even in the depressingly hockey-free summer, we expect to be a productive bunch here at Pro Hockey Talk. Sometimes it might be difficult to follow our pace. We understand that. For that reason, whenever we can, we’ll put all of the day’s stories in one convenient post called the PHT Nightcap. Enjoy, hockey fans.

Rangers acquire Todd White from Atlanta – From a fan base that really disliked him to a larger one that probably won’t like him.

Blackhawks walk away from Niemi’s arbitration award, sign Marty Turco – As we discussed Sunday night, the Blackhawks made a big decision to roll the dice with veteran goalie Turco over the more expensive Niemi.

Blues re-sign defenseman Erik Johnson – Johnson for $2.6 million per year? That’s a great bargain for a former No. 1 overall draft pick who may very well make good on his potential over his next two seasons.

Islanders buy out Brendan Witt’s contract – I already made a car joke about him last weekend, so I’m out of material on this one.

Sabres waive Tim Kennedy, plan to buy him out – It seemed like a semi-reasonable deal for Kennedy – at least compared to some of the other crazy deals given to marginal players – but the Sabres vehemently disagree.

Obama trash talks Ted Leonsis – Strange.

What’s next for Niemi? It won’t be the Flyers – Philadelphia doesn’t believe in the saying “If you can’t beat them, ask them to join you after they become unrestricted free agents.”

Ducks sign Andy Sutton for two years – While he won’t erase the memory of Scott Niedermayer & Co., he’ll help replace James Wisniewski if nothing else.

Kovalchuk hearing might happen Tuesday – Although apparently that’s not a sure thing either. My head hurts.

Forsberg feels good enough to play in Sweden … what about the NHL? – It’s unlikely, but admit it, Forsberg returning would be kind of cool.

Sabres sign Shaone Morrisonn – His name is humorously difficult to spell, I must say.

Glen Metropolit leaves NHL for Swiss league – Metropolit’s name lends itself to quite a few puns. It’s your call if you think they’re any good, but they’re out there.

Willie Mitchell says he’s “symptom-free” after battling concussion issues – The rugged defenseman would/should be in demand if he’s truly healthy.

Forbes lists four NHL teams on “Best American Sports Fans” list – Although they included the decidedly un-American Montreal Canadiens on the list. Whoops.

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    No mic? No problem: Oilers fans sing American, Canadian national anthems

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    There was apparently an issue with a microphone used for the national anthems prior to Game 3 between the Ducks and Oilers in Edmonton.

    Canadian country music star Brett Kissel was supposed to perform the anthems, however, as he stepped up to the mic, he soon discovered that there seemed to be a malfunction.

    With some quick encouragement from Kissel, fans at Rogers Place stole the show with stirring renditions of both the American and Canadian national anthems.

    Here is the Star Spangled Banner:

    Here is O Canada:

    Sami Vatanen returns to Ducks lineup vs. Oilers

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    Good news for the Anaheim Ducks, who trail the Edmonton Oilers 2-0 in their second round series.

    Ducks defenseman Sami Vatanen returns to the lineup Sunday for Game 3 — his first game since April 13, which was the opener of Anaheim’s first-round series with Calgary, because of an upper-body injury.

    However, the Ducks will be without Kevin Bieksa, who is dealing with a lower-body injury.

    Predators stifle Blues to take back series lead

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    The Nashville Predators have snapped their one-game funk in these Stanley Cup playoffs, taking back the series lead over the St. Louis Blues.

    For long stretches of Sunday’s contest, the Predators kept the puck away from and stifled the Blues, including a stretch of almost nine minutes at the beginning of the second period in which St. Louis failed to register a shot attempt.

    The Predators’ 3-1 victory in Game 3 was eventually secured on an unbelievably dominant shift late in the third period.

    Joel Edmundson‘s (costly) turnover led to a dizzying attack from Predators, who had sustained puck possession inside the St. Louis zone for about 1:10.

    By the end, Edmundson and Colton Parayko had exhausted themselves as the Predators tossed the puck around with increasing ease before Roman Josi halted the madness with a slap shot to the top corner, giving Nashville a two-goal lead.

    That continues an impressive trend for the Predators.

    They have scored nine goals in this series, with at least one defenseman contributing directly with either a goal or an assist on eight of those goals. Nashville’s group of blueliners — including Ryan Ellis, who has been on quite a productive roll throughout these playoffs — have combined for 11 points through three games in this series.

    This series resumes Tuesday in Nashville, with the Predators leading 2-1.

    VIDEO: Ryan Ellis continues his incredible postseason run for Predators

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    Playing in Nashville over the years it has been easy for Ryan Ellis to get overlooked, always playing in the shadow of bigger name stars on the team’s blue line.

    Shea Weber (before he was traded). Roman Josi. P.K. Subban.

    But Ellis has been a major part of the Predators’ blue line and he had a career-year in 2016-17, setting new personal bests in goals (16) and points (38) while matching his previous career high in assists (22).

    He has continued that strong play in the postseason and is currently the team’s leading scorer after he netted his third goal of the playoffs (and eighth total point) on Sunday afternoon to give the Predators a 1-0 lead over the St. Louis Blues.

    You can see it in the video above.

    After being held without a point in the Predators’ first playoff game, Ellis has now picked up at least one point in every playoff game since them and is now riding a six-game point streak.

    The first half of Sunday’s game has been a defensive clinic by the Predators, by the way, limiting St. Louis to just 10 shots on goal through the first 34 minutes, and none through the first 14 minutes of the second period.

    The Predators extended their lead to 2-0 in the second period when Cody McLeod deflected in his first goal of the playoffs to give the Predators some unexpected scoring depth. He had just five goals in 59 games during the regular season between the Predators and Colorado Avalanche.