PHT Morning Skate: Where Capitals’ Holtby, Erskine discuss their extensions

PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

The Winnipeg Jets’ top players have been living up to expectations lately. (Winnipeg Sun)

Goaltender Braden Holtby and defenseman John Erskine talk about their recently inked two-year extensions with the Washington Capitals. (Washington Times)

The New Jersey Devils might try to acquire a top-six forward before the deadline and defenseman Andy Greene might be involved in any potential deal. For his part, the 30-year-old blueliner knows that’s a possibility, but he doesn’t let it bother him. (New Jersey Online)

Toronto Maple Leafs forward Nazem Kadri likes the idea of the Detroit Red Wings playing in the same division post-realignment. “Toronto and Detroit have a great history, a great hockey tradition,” Kadri said. “Being in the same division would really get the rivalry cranked up again, especially in southern Ontario.” (Toronto Sun)

New York Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi (ankle) was back on the ice for Monday’s practice. However, forward Rick Nash and defenseman Ryan McDonagh were both absent. (New York Newsday)

Sportsnet’s Ryan Porth’s top five picks for the Hart Trophy at the one-third mark of the season. (Sportsnet)

Dallas Stars goaltender Kari Lehtonen (groin) took part in Monday’s practice, but he’s still questionable for Tuesday’s contest. (The Dallas Morning News)

Meanwhile, New Jersey Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur’s back injury is of the day-to-day variety. (New Jersey Online)

Here’s the highlights from Nashville’s 5-4 overtime victory over Dallas:

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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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