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In statement, Hitch says Blues are in ‘good and capable hands’ with Yeo

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It’s been total silence from Ken Hitchcock since he was fired as Blues head coach last week — but on Monday, Hitchcock finally spoke.

Well, sort of.

Though he’s turned out repeated interview requests from the Post-Dispatch, Hitchcock did release a statement to the paper. Here it is, in full:

“When I reflect on my time in St. Louis, I remember it as some of the best years of my career. I would like to thank Tom Stillman and the entire ownership group, Doug (Armstrong) and the rest of the Blues management for giving me the opportunity to be part of such a storied franchise.

“I am very proud of our record on the ice over my time in St. Louis and would like to thank all of the coaches that I have had the pleasure of sharing the bench with: Gary Agnew, Ray Bennett, Danny Brooks, Jim Corsi, Sean Ferrell, Corey Hirsch, Scott Masters, Scott Mellanby, Kirk Muller, Brad Shaw, Steve Thomas and Rick Wilson and the Blues’ equipment and medical staffs for all of their support during my tenure. Without their hard work and dedication, we could not have had the success we achieved. A special thanks and good luck also goes to Mike Yeo. Mike was a true professional and an incredible source of knowledge and support as an associate coach. The Blues are in good and capable hands going forward with Mike.

“I was very fortunate to coach many wonderful players during my tenure and I truly appreciate your dedication over the years as we tried to make our goal a reality. I have made some special friends with many of you and I know our paths will cross again soon.

“I also want to recognize the front office staff in St. Louis. Their commitment and passion for connecting the team with the community is inspiring and did not go unnoticed. They continue to play an important role in keeping the organization moving in a positive direction.

“Finally, to the St. Louis Blues fans, I want to thank you for your unwavering support. I have received countless notes of appreciation over the last few days and it truly means the world to me. St. Louis is an amazing sports town with some of the most knowledgeable fans in the world. I am eternally grateful to have been part of the Blues organization and to have made St. Louis my home over the last six years. The friendships I’ve developed and the memories I have made here will last me a lifetime.”

It’s a nice gesture from Hitch who, as Armstrong put it, paid the price “for all our failures, including mine.” One gets the sense this was a heartbreaking conclusion to his time in St. Louis, something made evident by Armstrong choking back tears in announcing the dismissal.

Related: The challenge for Yeo? Make better use of Blues’ speed

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.