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Goalie nods: Dubnyk goes for Wild in first place showdown with Blackhawks

It was exactly two years ago that a struggling Minnesota Wild team made what seemed to be a desperation trade, acquiring Devan Dubnyk for a third-round draft pick to fix what was at the time disastrous goaltending situation.

It was a significant moment for both Dubnyk and the Wild.

Dubnyk used the fresh start to turn his career around after a tough finish in Edmonton that saw him bounce around to Nashville and Arizona, and it solidified a position that had become a huge trouble spot for the Wild.

Since joining the Wild in a January 2015 trade with the Coyotes, Dubnyk has been one of the NHL’s best goaltenders with a .928 save percentage in 139 appearances. Among goalies with at least 100 appearances during that stretch, nobody has a better one. For as good as he was in the second half of the 2014-15 season, and through much of the 2015-16 season, he has been even better this season and is currently putting together his best season in the NHL and carries a league-leading .940 save percentage into Sunday’s first place showdown against the Chicago Blackhawks.

He has been arguably the Wild’s best player during this recent 19-game stretch that has seen them go on a 16-1-2 run, and it should have him as the current leader in the clubhouse when it comes to the Vezina Trophy as the league’s top netminder.

Naturally, he will get the start on Sunday night against the Blackhawks as he looks to keep this fantastic stretch of play — both his own and the Wild as a team — rolling.

The Blackhawks are countering with their No. 1 goalie, Corey Crawford.

Crawford is still one of the NHL’s top goalies, but his play has cooled a bit since he returned from the appendectomy that sidelined him for a few weeks in December (which is probably to be expected). Still, with the Blackhawks giving up close to 32 shots on goal per game his play has been a big part of their success this season.

Elsewhere…

— Phillip Grubauer went for the Washington Capitals in their afternoon game against Steve Mason and the Philadelphia Flyers.

Cory Schneider returns to Vancouver to face his former team when he gets the call for the New Jersey Devils when they take on the Canucks. This has easily been Schneider’s worst season in the NHL as a starter and he is looking to snap a personal four-game losing streak on Sunday night. The Canucks have not announced a starter but it is likely to be Ryan Miller.

— After recording a 23-save shutout on Saturday night against the San Jose Sharks the St. Louis Blues are going back to Carter Hutton for the second part of their back-to-back. He will go against Anaheim Ducks goalie John Gibson who has started to get on a roll over the past couple of weeks. He has allowed just five goals in his past five starts, a stretch that includes two shutouts.

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.