Departures: Robidas leaves Finnish team, Stewart exits Germany

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Two more locked-out NHLers parted ways with their European clubs on Wednesday.

The first was Dallas Stars defenseman Stephane Robidas, who opted not to extend his contract with Finnish team HIFK Helsinki.

Robidas, 35, signed with the SM-liiga club back in early October, joining fellow locked-out NHLers Lennart Petrett and Sean Bergenheim.

He appeared in 15 games for HIFK and recorded 2G-3A-5PTS, racking up 22 penalty minutes and a ghastly minus-11 rating (though possibly not all his doing — Helsinki sits a disappointing 10th in the 14-team league.)

The second player to return home was St. Louis Blues forward Chris Stewart, who left German second division club Crimmitschau.

According to a hasty Google translate of the Crimmitschau press release, Stewart returned to Canada because he was one of the players that “received from their managers to call for a return to North America and to prepare for an early start to the season may soon.”

So yeah.

The departure marks an end to Stewart’s wild European adventure — he first signed in Germany (along with Wayne Simmonds) in late September, then jumped ship (again, with Simmonds) in October to sign with Liberec of the Czech Extraliga.

In November, Stewart abruptly left the Czech Republic for a reunion with Crimmitschau, not long after the ugly racial chants incident involving Simmonds and fans of Extraliga club Chomutov.

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.

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