Preds’ Erat on Game 3 win: “[We] finally showed some balls”

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There was no shortage of descriptors coming from the Preds dressing room following last night’s 2-0 win over the Phoenix Coyotes.

Head coach Barry Trotz praised the team for playing “Nashville Predators hockey.” David Legwand said the Preds were “doing things the right way.”

Then there was Martin Erat.

“Tonight we played hard for 60 minutes,” he told John Glennon of The Tennessean. “And finally showed some balls.”

More, from The Tennessean:

Erat was arguably the best player on the ice in Game 3, setting an early tone with forechecking and physical play. His strong puck-possession skills also led to a handful of Predators scoring chances.

The soft-spoken Czech forward sounded just as energized after the game as he was during the game.

“We just showed to our teammates that we are still in the series,” Erat said. “It is going to be hard. (The Coyotes) are not going to come here and just roll over for us.”

Don’t discount the size of Erat’s actions and words (also, balls.) He’s been the team’s leading scorer in each of the last two seasons, but consistently failed to raise his game come playoff time. Erat had just a single goal in the Preds’ 10-game run last postseason and his career totals (8G-15A-23PTS in 44 games with a minus-7 rating) leave plenty to be desired.

But this year, Erat’s different. The 30-year-old veteran of 10 NHL seasons sounds like a player that understands the effort required for a deep playoff run.

And more importantly, he sounds prepared to make it.

“We went to Phoenix and felt it was going to be easy, like they were going to give it to us,” Erat said. “They played hard and have an unbelievable system.

“We have to play harder than them, forecheck hard and create chances.”

Erik Karlsson played through hairline fractures in foot to help Sens advance

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Remember when many were keeping an eye on Erik Karlsson after he was seemingly cramping up after logging more than 40 minutes in an OT contest against the Boston Bruins.

It’s possible he was also dealing with that sort of ailment, but he earned some “hockey tough” kudos on Sunday after word surfaced that the Ottawa Senators defenseman was dealing with hairline fractures in his left heel through the series.

Sportsnet’s Jason York refers to the issue as “two small fractures” while ESPN’s Joe McDonald went into specifics, noting that Karlsson explains that the injury happened on March 28 (and was why he missed some games late in the season).

There’s some optimism as the Senators ready for the New York Rangers, at least according to Karlsson.

Hmm.

Either way, that’s impressive stuff from the Senators defenseman, and the sort of information that usually only surfaces after a team has been eliminated. We’ll see if he’s hindered by such issues as the playoffs go along.

Gaudreau, Granlund and Tarasenko: 2017 Lady Byng finalists

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The NHL officially announced the nominees for the 2017 Lady Byng on Sunday, and they’re a star-studded bunch: Johnny Gaudreau, Mikael Granlund and Vladimir Tarasenko.

The PHWA determines “the player adjudged to have exhibited the best type of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability.”

(Did Tarasenko help eliminate Granlund’s team in a gentlemanly fashion?)

For more on the three finalists, click here.

MacArthur, Senators end Bruins’ season in OT after controversial calls

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It’s a feel-good story, especially if you can look beyond questions of officiating.

Clarke MacArthur could have very well never played another NHL game considering his lengthy battles with concussion symptoms. Instead, he drew a penalty on the Boston Bruins in overtime of Game 6 and then managed to score the series-clinching goal.

Now, this isn’t to say that MacArthur didn’t rightfully draw a penalty; it most clearly was. And, in the bigger picture, it’s one of those stories that almost makes you wonder if real-life sports actually do follow Hollywood scripts.

People just wonder about some other decisions during that overtime, in particular, making it frustrating for some Bruins fans to see the season end in such a way.

Whether they like it or not, that is the case, though.

The Senators took Game 6 by a score of 3-2 (OT), winning their series 4-2. They can breathe a sigh of relief in avoiding a Game 7, an especially valuable bonus since Erik Karlsson had been pushed hard lately, logging more than 40 minutes in a recent game.

Ottawa avoids a do-or-die contest. Instead, they’ll face the New York Rangers in the next round while the Bruins enter the summer following an up-and-down campaign.

Bergeron takes advantage of slow Sens change, sends Game 6 to OT (Video)

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Every game in this Senators – Bruins series has been decided by one goal, so why not send Game 6 to overtime?

Oh, and speaking of overtime, this contest going beyond regulation makes it 17 OT games, tying an NHL record for the most in a single round.

Ottawa appeared to take a “lazy change” with a 2-1 lead, and Patrice Bergeron made the Senators pay, putting in a rebound to collect the goal that eventually sent this contest to overtime.