Hall of Famer Larry Robinson helped improve Sharks defense

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Being able to learn from one of the all-time best defensemen in hockey has been a benefit for the San Jose Sharks.

Hall of Fame blue liner Larry Robinson joined the Sharks coaching staff as an associate coach in July of 2012, bringing the experience that comes with being a two-time Norris Trophy winner and six-time Stanley Cup champion as a player with the Montreal Canadiens.

“When you’re taking pointers from a guy who’s pretty much seen everything in the game, it’s not hard to know that he probably knows what he’s talking about — even for a guy like myself who’s played a lot,” Sharks defenseman Brad Stuart told the San Jose Mercury News back in April.

“You think you know everything, but you don’t.”

Under Robinson’s tutelage, the Sharks showed a noticeable improvement in their goals-against numbers from the 2011-12 season to the lockout-shortened 2013 season.

In 2011-12, the Sharks finished eighth in the league, averaging 2.5 goals against per game.

With Robinson on the staff, the Sharks buckled down, averaging 2.33 goals against per game. That placed them sixth overall in the NHL.

Combined through the first two games of the Western Conference quarter-fnal against the Vancouver Canucks, the Sharks had a registered 37 blocked shots.

While Robinson – and his wealth of experience – deserves some of the credit for helping to improve the Sharks defensively, the players did their part, too.

“It’s a lot of work,” Sharks head coach Todd McLellan told reporters during that first-round sweep of the Canucks, as per Ben Kuzma of the Vancouver Province.

“A commitment level from the players and you can only defend so many different ways. The players have to make a decision collectively that they’re prepared to sacrifice to prevent goals.”

No mic? No problem: Oilers fans sing American, Canadian national anthems

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There was apparently an issue with a microphone used for the national anthems prior to Game 3 between the Ducks and Oilers in Edmonton.

Canadian country music star Brett Kissel was supposed to perform the anthems, however, as he stepped up to the mic, he soon discovered that there seemed to be a malfunction.

With some quick encouragement from Kissel, fans at Rogers Place stole the show with stirring renditions of both the American and Canadian national anthems.

Here is the Star Spangled Banner:

Here is O Canada:

Sami Vatanen returns to Ducks lineup vs. Oilers

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Good news for the Anaheim Ducks, who trail the Edmonton Oilers 2-0 in their second round series.

Ducks defenseman Sami Vatanen returns to the lineup Sunday for Game 3 — his first game since April 13, which was the opener of Anaheim’s first-round series with Calgary, because of an upper-body injury.

However, the Ducks will be without Kevin Bieksa, who is dealing with a lower-body injury.

Predators stifle Blues to take back series lead

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The Nashville Predators have snapped their one-game funk in these Stanley Cup playoffs, taking back the series lead over the St. Louis Blues.

For long stretches of Sunday’s contest, the Predators kept the puck away from and stifled the Blues, including a stretch of almost nine minutes at the beginning of the second period in which St. Louis failed to register a shot attempt.

The Predators’ 3-1 victory in Game 3 was eventually secured on an unbelievably dominant shift late in the third period.

Joel Edmundson‘s (costly) turnover led to a dizzying attack from Predators, who had sustained puck possession inside the St. Louis zone for about 1:10.

By the end, Edmundson and Colton Parayko had exhausted themselves as the Predators tossed the puck around with increasing ease before Roman Josi halted the madness with a slap shot to the top corner, giving Nashville a two-goal lead.

That continues an impressive trend for the Predators.

They have scored nine goals in this series, with at least one defenseman contributing directly with either a goal or an assist on eight of those goals. Nashville’s group of blueliners — including Ryan Ellis, who has been on quite a productive roll throughout these playoffs — have combined for 11 points through three games in this series.

This series resumes Tuesday in Nashville, with the Predators leading 2-1.

VIDEO: Ryan Ellis continues his incredible postseason run for Predators

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Playing in Nashville over the years it has been easy for Ryan Ellis to get overlooked, always playing in the shadow of bigger name stars on the team’s blue line.

Shea Weber (before he was traded). Roman Josi. P.K. Subban.

But Ellis has been a major part of the Predators’ blue line and he had a career-year in 2016-17, setting new personal bests in goals (16) and points (38) while matching his previous career high in assists (22).

He has continued that strong play in the postseason and is currently the team’s leading scorer after he netted his third goal of the playoffs (and eighth total point) on Sunday afternoon to give the Predators a 1-0 lead over the St. Louis Blues.

You can see it in the video above.

After being held without a point in the Predators’ first playoff game, Ellis has now picked up at least one point in every playoff game since them and is now riding a six-game point streak.

The first half of Sunday’s game has been a defensive clinic by the Predators, by the way, limiting St. Louis to just 10 shots on goal through the first 34 minutes, and none through the first 14 minutes of the second period.

The Predators extended their lead to 2-0 in the second period when Cody McLeod deflected in his first goal of the playoffs to give the Predators some unexpected scoring depth. He had just five goals in 59 games during the regular season between the Predators and Colorado Avalanche.