Read bumps the slump, Flyers stifle the Habs

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PHILADELPHIA (AP) Matt Read scored the tiebreaking goal early in the third period to end his long drought and lead the Philadelphia Flyers to a 3-1 victory over the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday night.

Claude Giroux also scored and Sean Couturier had an empty-netter in the final seconds for the Flyers, who opened a five-game homestand – their longest of the season – by winning their fourth in the last five.

Nikita Nesterov scored for the Atlantic Division-leading Canadiens. Montreal’s 16 shots were a season low and also marked the fewest Philadelphia has allowed in a game this season.

Following Tuesday’s disheartening 5-1 loss at Carolina in which the Flyers had just six shots through 2 1/2 periods, coach Dave Hakstol benched 23-year-old defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere and 19-year-old forward Travis Konecny.

Hakstol kept Read in the lineup, however, even though the Philadelphia forward hadn’t scored a goal since Nov. 3.

Read put Philadelphia in front with a perfectly placed slap shot from the slot on a 3-on-2 break with 16:28 left. Couturier set up the chance and Read finished it by beating Carey Price over his right shoulder into the top corner of the net.

Michal Neuvirth kept Philadelphia in front with a strong save on Paul Byron from close range 3 1/2 minutes later.

Neuvirth didn’t have a lot of work, finishing with 15 saves to help the Flyers improve to 10-0-1 in their last 11 home games against Montreal.

Price stopped 21 shots.

This is an important homestand for the Flyers, who began the day with a tenuous hold on the Eastern Conference’s final playoff spot. Philadelphia was one point in front of Toronto for the second wild card, but eight teams were within seven points of the Flyers.

Giroux tied it on the power play with 2:10 left in the second period. The captain’s wrist shot from the top of the left circle trickled through Price’s legs.

Nesterov, playing his second game for the Canadiens, scored his fourth of the season and first since being acquired from Tampa Bay last Thursday on a slap shot 4:51 in.

Alex Galchenyuk, returning from a three-game absence due to a knee injury, made a cross-ice pass and Nesterov fired the puck past Neuvirth.

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.