Lightning hope to put Caps on the brink; Predators and Canucks look for an edge

A pair of curious Game 3s are on the way tonight with potentially scary consequences for one team. Washington heads into Tampa down 2-0 to the Lightning and with the home crowd hoping to keep the the Bolts on the winning side. Road teams have been successful in the playoffs and Tampa proved that by winning both games in Washington. If they can hold serve at home, they’ll be sending the Caps back home with a lot to think about. The Caps are hoping that playing on the road helps them better focus in to play their game.

Meanwhile the Canucks and Predators do battle in Nashville for the first time in the second round. With a raucous home crowd ready to make the Canucks lives miserable, the attention figures to be on both Pekka Rinne and Roberto Luongo to continue their brilliant play in goal.

All times are Eastern.

Washington @ Tampa Bay – 6:30 p.m. (Versus)Tampa Bay leads series 2-0

Tampa Bay has to take the kind of play and mentality they’ve used on the road so far and apply it at home. That means getting timely play on the power play with Vincent Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis and even better even strength play from the likes of Steve Downie, Dominic Moore, and Sean Bergenheim. Washington needs to stay out of the penalty box and learn to not turn the puck over or have better timing when making a line change. Expect Alex Ovechkin and Mike Knuble to have big, powerful games tonight.

Vancouver @ Nashville – 9 p.m. (Versus)Series tied 1-1

The only things that seem certain tonight are that the crowd will be bonkers and that both Pekka Rinne and Roberto Luongo will be on top of their games. Offense is in short supply in this series with the Preds playing everything tight and not giving Vancouver much room to move, one of the league’s best offenses is finding it difficult to keep being nasty. Speaking of nasty, the Predators defense is getting things done and doing their part to give Pekka Rinne a stress-free night as often as possible. While he’s getting wins, those nights aren’t really too stressful. Both teams would like to see their offensive talents pick up here, but with goalies like those two in charge, that wish becomes an awfully long shot.

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

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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.

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