Around the Rink – Monday, December 13th

Here are previews for tonight’s six games. As always, these start times are Eastern Standard Time (ET).

7:30 pm

Atlanta @ Ottawa

With the Washington Capitals on a six-game slump, there’s the sense that both the Thrashers and Lightning could have at least a slight chance to win the Southeast. To do that, the Thrashers will need to beat teams like the Senators. Atlanta is 8-2-0 in their last 10 while Ottawa is 3-6-1 during their last 10.

Los Angeles @ Detroit

At home, the Kings and Red Wings are virtually the same team (11 wins, few losses). The difference between the two squads is that Los Angeles struggles when they’re away from sunny California, as they’re a pitiful 5-8-0 on the road.

So on paper, this could be a severe beating via Detroit. Then again, this is a chance for the Kings to turn things around against one of the league’s best, so we’ll just see.

8:00 pm

NY Islanders @ Nashville

To many, this game registers a 9.3 on the yawn-o-meter. Yet to me, it’s all about two teams in tough spots and how one perseveres (the Predators) while the other almost seems to roll over and quit (the Islanders).

9:00 pm

Chicago @ Colorado

The Avalanche are quietly the highest scoring team in the Western Conference, with 101 goals scored in only 29 games played. In fact, Colorado scored five more goals in two less games played than the much-hyped offensive force from Chicago. With two talented, young (and slightly banged up) rosters, this should be a fun one to watch.

Columbus @ Calgary

There’s a simple way for the Flames to stop the calls for Brent Sutter’s head: win. They haven’t done that very often, though, as Calgary is the worst team in the Western Conference right now. Meanwhile, the Blue Jackets are an up-and-down squad that sports the third star of last week, Rick Nash.

10:30 pm

Dallas @ San Jose

A regulation win for the Sharks wouldn’t technically give San Jose the lead in the Pacific Division over the Stars, but it would make it awfully close. Then again, the Pacific lead is like a championship belt in professional wrestling; it seems to change every other week or so. Either way, this should be an intriguing fight between the two teams that have won the Pacific for ages.

Video: Trisha Yearwood sings national anthem for Preds-Ducks

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Keith Urban sang the national anthem for Game 3. Kelly Clarkson did the honors for the Nashville Predators before Game 4. Next up: Trisha Yearwood for Game 6.

The Predators hope to close out the Anaheim Ducks on Monday, and they got off to a nice start with Austin Watson scoring a quick 1-0 goal. Not long after, the Predators added another to build to a 2-0 lead.

Garth Brooks spoiled Yearwood’s appearance a bit before the contest.

Brooks also revealed Yearwood’s early fan creds:

Nick Ritchie ejected after boarding, bloodying Viktor Arvidsson (Video)

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Anaheim Ducks forward Nick Ritchie scored a goal in Game 4, but he won’t be able to provide such a scoring boost for his team in Game 6.

That’s because he was ejected during the first period after hitting rising Nashville Predators star Viktor Arvidsson from behind, bloodying the slick Swede.

Ritchie was whistled for a game misconduct and major. Remarkably, the Ducks killed the entire five-minute power-play opportunity, with Ryan Kesler‘s shorthanded chance being one of the better opportunities for either team.

It’s still a big blunder, but if the Ducks can get back in it, remember that big kill.

Video of the hit is coming soon. For now, check out the GIF:

Oddly, Arvidsson left the ice with a wound that more or less spelled out “R,” presumably for Ritchie, maybe celebrating the return of “Twin Peaks.”

(Such an obvious move might not be surreal enough for David Lynch, though. Alex Prewitt’s Zorro reference might be more, um, on the mark.)

Video: Predators storm off to 2-0 lead, beguile Bernier early on

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It was already loud at Bridgestone Arena, but the Nashville Predators are making it a madhouse with a strong start against the Anaheim Ducks in Game 6.

First, it was Austin Watson, who sent a puck off a Ducks skate to score a 1-0 goal on Nashville’s first shot on Jonathan Bernier, who is starting instead of John Gibson. That came about 90 seconds into the game, really revving up the crowd.

Colton Sissons scored his first goal of the Western Conference Final – on his first shot on goal of the series – to make it 2-0. At that point, Bernier had allowed two goals on three shots on goal. Bernier’s made a few stops since then, but it’s a shaky start for a Ducks team facing elimination.

There’s some solace in that Anaheim’s often at its best in dire situations, though you have to wonder how many times they can bounce back from this?

No Mike Fisher or Craig Smith for Predators in Game 6

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The Anaheim Ducks won’t have John Gibson back, but the Nashville Predators are dealing with some injury-related letdowns, too.

Craig Smith skated before Game 6, but he opted not to play on Monday. Mike Fisher is also unable to go for the Predators as they aim to eliminate Anaheim.

The Ducks also won’t have Rickard Rakell back in the mix, so this physical Western Conference Final continues to feel like a battle of attrition.

Click here for the official roster report.

Game 5 is airing on NBCSN right now. You can watch online and via the NBC Sports App.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE.