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PHT Morning Skate: Top selling jerseys in the first half of the season

–Three former goalies, Kevin Weeks, Martin Biron and Steve Valiquette, broke down Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist‘s recent struggles. “There were some really big holes technically in his game at times this year,” said Biron. “When Hank is on top of his game and things are rolling along, it’s very structured: A to B, B to C, and so on with his movements. That hasn’t been the case consistently enough.” (Yahoo)

Erik Karlsson sat down for a Q & A with the NHL’s website. He talked about a number of things including why he believes the Senators have exceeded expectations in 2016-17. “I think that our structure has been really good. I think the system that Guy (Boucher) brought in is very different from what most people play, but for our team it’s been working really well. We’ve been doing really well against the teams that are really good and it’s because everybody really bought into it and everybody is doing the same thing.” (NHL.com)

–Which Eastern Conference GMs are under the most pressure between now and the trade deadline? According to Sean McIndoe, Boston’s Don Sweeney is at the top of the list. The Bruins have missed the playoffs in back-to-back years and they may be headed for a third straight year if they don’t start winning with a little more regularity. (Sportsnet)

–The Canadiens and Predators swapped P.K. Subban for Shea Weber last summer. At first, most people thought the Preds got the better of that deal, but things haven’t unfolded that way this season. Weber has shown that he’s still difficult to play against and he still has plenty left in the tank. “He’s physical and he’s mean,” Tampa Bay defenseman Victor Hedman said of Weber. “He’s one of the top defensemen in the whole league. What separates him is his massive shot. You try to block it, but sometimes you pray to God that the puck doesn’t hit you.” (New York Times)

–Norris Trophy favorite Brent Burns got to speak to Bobby Orr during All-Star weekend. Not only did Orr share some wisdom with the Sharks defenseman, but they also took an unusual (and hilarious) picture together. “That was probably the best thing I took away from that weekend getting a cool picture with Bobby Orr, tugging my beard. It was awesome.” (Mercury News)

–On Tuesday, we found out that Sidney Crosby, Auston Matthews and Patrick Kane had the top three selling jerseys in the first half of the NHL season. There were also a few surprises in the top 15, as Shayne Gostisbehere, Dylan Larkin, Rick Nash and Ryan McDonagh also found themselves on the list. (NHL Shop)

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    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.