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Islanders rally for zany OT win vs. Leafs; Bruins drop out of playoff position

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The next month-and-a-half could bring the Doug Weight honeymoon period to a screeching halt for the New York Islanders, but the good feelings lasted at least one more night.

Mike Babcock? He’s probably not feeling too happy.

The Toronto Maple Leafs did salvage a standings point, and their young guns did look great on Monday, but Babs is likely fuming about a 6-5 overtime win for the Islanders. He’ll be unhappy with the wide-open game, and also probably with the fact that Andrew Ladd‘s tying goal came with just 1:29 left in the third.

Still, those Leafs kids are alright:

The Maple Leafs squandered leads of 2-1, 4-2 and 5-4 in eventually losing to the red-hot Islanders. Brock Nelson was one of the Islanders’ biggest heroes, scoring two goals, including the overtime-clincher.

The good and the bad for each team

Looking at the big picture, it’s more of a mixed bag for both teams.

Yes, the Maple Leafs suffered from the downside of a wide-open style:

Still, it’s easy to forget that the Maple Leafs were closing off a six-game road trip. Tuesday begins a four-game homestand and they play eight of their next 10 games at home. Even with a congested schedule, the Maple Leafs gain great opportunities to put even more distance between themselves and the Boston Bruins.

Tonight’s single point pushes Toronto to third in the Atlantic while the B’s fell out of the East’s top eight altogether:

Top five in Atlantic:

Canadiens – 68 points in 54 games
Senators – 60 points in 50 games
Maple Leafs – 58 in 51

Bruins – 58 in 55
Panthers – 56 in 52

East wild card races

Rangers – 67 in 52
Flyers – 59 in 54

Bruins – 58 in 55
Islanders – 56 in 51
Panthers – 56 in 52
Devils – 56 in 54 (New Jersey beat Buffalo 2-1 on Monday)

See full standings here.

As you can see, the Islanders find themselves in a remarkable spot. When you consider their games in hand edge over the Bruins and Flyers, their playoff dreams seem surprisingly reasonable right now.

There’s some reason to believe that Weight & Co. might stumble, however.

The Islanders play three of their next four games on the road, but the challenges get scarier as you head into mid-March. Just three of their next 16 games take place in Brooklyn, with a nine-game road trip from Feb. 21 – March 11 standing as the biggest hurdle to clear.

So, yeah, the Maple Leafs’ and Islanders’ schedule argue that these two teams could be feeling very differently in the next few weeks.

Then again, such thoughts cement this as a pretty important win for the Islanders. They might just be able to withstand the challenges ahead if they continue to gather momentum.

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.