For a handful of veterans, this Stanley Cup was a long time coming

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Some players will go their whole careers without winning a Stanley Cup. For a handful of Chicago Blackhawks, their ship finally came in.

Veterans like Michal Handzus and Michal Rozsival have been playing since the late 1990s without a whiff of the championship. Coming away victorious in Game 6 provided them with a moment they’ll never forget.

“This is the happiest moment of my hockey career,” Rozsival said. “Coming over from the Czech Republic and playing for 15 years here in the NHL and having some ups and downs in my career. To be able to be here right now is an amazing feeling.”

Handzus played for Chicago back in 2006-2007 before things turned around in the Windy City. His return trip turned out to be magical.

“(Laughs) It was a long time ago. It was a different organization for sure,” he said. “Obviously they’ve been great the last five, six years and it shows a great city, a great organization top to bottom.”

For backup goalie Ray Emery, he’s had shots at the Cup with Ottawa in 2007 and Philadelphia in 2010. Now, as part of a Jennings Trophy tandem in Chicago, he’s happy to finally come away with a title in his ninth season.

“I lost in Ottawa, I lost in Philly, and then the third time around I got to enjoy the run too because I was on the outside and supportive. It was a great thing to watch,” he said.

“Every year is its own challenge and this year was a great, great year and a great result at the end.”

If you wonder what it’s like to play for so long and just wind up in the right place at the right time, Handzus was able to sum it up best.

“Sometimes you wonder (if you’ll win it), but you gotta believe,” he said. “Obviously you gotta be lucky and you gotta be in the right spot and I did. I’m thankful to God that I was here.”

 

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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