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With bad blood boiling, Ducks and Flames preach discipline before series

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) The Calgary Flames and the Anaheim Ducks were the NHL’s two most-penalized teams this season. A week ago, the Flames’ captain seriously injured the Ducks’ best defenseman, leading to a third period featuring 106 combined penalty minutes.

So when these clubs meet in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs Thursday night, their leaders realize nobody will be lacking for motivational fire.

They’re more concerned about making sure their physical play is channeled in a productive direction.

Watch Ducks vs. Flames on NBC Sports

“We know the emotions are always going to be ramped up in a playoff series,” Anaheim coach Randy Carlyle said Wednesday. “But if we can stay within the rules and play the right way, we’re going to give ourselves a much better chance, as opposed to the penalty parade that we’ve made with Calgary a few times during the season.”

Related: Ducks-Flames series heats up as Treliving rips Murray’s ‘asinine remarks

Those emotions still might be a bit raw when the Flames hit the ice at Honda Center, where their franchise hasn’t won in nearly 11 years.

The Ducks must begin the postseason without All-Star defenseman Cam Fowler because Calgary captain Mark Giordano delivered a knee-on-knee hit during the Flames’ visit to Anaheim last week .

“It was not intentional on my part,” Giordano said Wednesday before his first playoff appearance in 10 years. “Hopefully, Cam is OK, but I’m looking forward to this series and moving on. … We don’t want anything to slow us or our game down, so we’ve got to stay away from it. We’ve got to be emotional, but there’s a fine line in the playoffs.”

Ducks general manager Bob Murray was steamed when the NHL declined to discipline Giordano further, complaining that Giordano “has done this before.” Calgary GM Brad Treliving fired back shortly afterward, calling Murray’s comments “asinine.”

“Turn the page,” Carlyle said. “It’s over. Can’t change what happened. It’s done. Move on. There’s more important things on our plate than to worry about something that we have no control over at this point.”

Here are other things to watch when the Pacific Division rivals hit the ice for Game 1:

THE STREAK

As everybody in both dressing rooms knows by now, Calgary has lost 25 consecutive regular-season games at Honda Center in Anaheim since Jan. 19, 2004. It’s the longest losing streak in one building against one opponent in NHL history.

Yet the streak is slightly less dire from a postseason perspective: The Flames won a playoff game in Anaheim on April 25, 2006, beating Carlyle’s first Anaheim team – although the Ducks still won the next two home games and the series.

When the clubs met in the playoffs two years ago, the Ducks won three more home games. The numbers are stark for the Flames in Orange County, but Carlyle sees a clear downside to that dominance.

“To me, it’s a new slate,” Carlyle said. “This winning streak, it’s a good one for us. It’s a bad one for them. We understand that. But the bottom line is, streaks are going to get broken at some point. That’s the dangerous part for us.”

RANDY’S RETURN

Carlyle is back in the postseason with the Ducks on the 10th anniversary of leading them to their only Stanley Cup championship. He got the job back last spring after Bruce Boudreau’s Ducks flopped in the first round against Nashville, losing the first two games at home and then blowing a 3-2 series lead.

Anaheim lost Game 7 on home ice for the fourth consecutive season under Boudreau. Carlyle claims no magic formula for coaxing postseason poise out of largely the same core Ducks, but he’s hoping for a renewed sense of excitement after years of playoff disappointment.

“Enjoy the experience,” Carlyle told his players. “It’s going to be fun. These are exciting times. Don’t get caught up in the emotions. Just go out and play your game.”

FAMILIAR FOES

Anaheim routed Calgary in five second-round games in 2015 to earn a spot in the conference finals, but these Flames are bigger, tougher and more prepared for the experience under new coach Glen Gulutzan.

“We know what we’re in for, and we’re excited for the challenge,” said Johnny Gaudreau, the Flames’ leading scorer.

The Flames know all about Ryan Kesler, the Ducks’ agitating All-Star center of the shutdown defensive line likely to be deployed against Gaudreau.

The Ducks also know plenty about Matthew Tkachuk, the rampaging teenager whose physical game seems ideal for the postseason. Carlyle even played alongside Tkachuk’s father, Keith, for two seasons in Winnipeg in the early 1990s.

“I played with his dad, coached his dad, so I’ll ask (Keith Tkachuk) to discipline him,” Carlyle said with a laugh. “Well, if he’s as thick-headed as his dad, I don’t think it will work.”

Video: Predators’ Fiddler ejected for knee-to-knee on Blues’ Parayko

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Hey, remember when Vernon Fiddler was a feel-good story in scoring an unlikely, lucky goal to seal Game 1 for the Nashville Predators?

That feel-good story didn’t extend very far into Game 2 against the St. Louis Blues.

With about 90 seconds remaining in the first period, Fiddler delivered a knee-to-knee hit on the Blues’ rising star defenseman Colton Parayko, who left the ice after getting some help. The officials responded accordingly, handing Fiddler a game misconduct and five-minute major for kneeing.

Vladimir Tarasenko made the Predators pay with a 1-1 power-play goal as the opening frame was nearing an end, and being that it was a major penalty, the damage may continue. The Blues will begin the second with about 3:30 in man-advantage time.

You can see video of the hit above this post’s headline. PHT will monitor updates regarding Parayko’s condition.

All things considered, the Predators are probably lucky that Game 2 is currently locked up at 1-1.

Video: Did Ovechkin miss opportunity to land big hit on Crosby?

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There are a lot of ways to describe Alex Ovechkin‘s on-ice style. One that probably never comes up is “shy.”

He’s one of the most hard-hitting high-scorers in recent memory, but Keith Jones and Mike Milbury noticed a moment where he passed up a potentially huge hit on Sidney Crosby in the Pittsburgh Penguins’ eventual Game 1 win against the Washington Capitals.

Both Jones and Milbury admit that Ovechkin probably made the right choice in the moment, as he a) scored a goal soon after and b) would have been whistled for interference (at minimum?).

Even so, they still wonder if it was really the right choice. Watch that interesting discussion in the video above.

And, in the clip below, something most can agree on: Crosby’s on a roll.

Game 2 is on NBC at 8 p.m. ET on Saturday. You can watch it online and via the NBC Sports App (click here for the livestream link).

Predators admit Fiala ‘will be missed’ but must move on

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ST. LOUIS — The Nashville Predators faced the reality Thursday that they will have to play the rest of the playoffs without left winger Kevin Fiala, who sustained a broken left leg on Wednesday night in their series opener against the St. Louis Blues.

“Kev was playing so well for us,” Predators defenseman Ryan Ellis told NHL.com. “He became a dominant player on the ice, and it’s a big loss for our team. It hurts right now, hurts for Kev, too, but we have to move forward. He’s going to be missed for sure, but we have to find a way to get past it.”

The Predators will try to do that starting Friday night, when they take on the Blues in Game 2 of the Western Conference second-round series, trying to stay undefeated in this year’s postseason.

After sweeping the top-seeded Chicago Blackhawks in the first round, the eighth-seeded Predators won Game 1 against the Blues 4-3 on Wednesday. Nashville got a goal and two assists from P.K. Subban and the game-winning goal from Vernon Fiddler with 5:05 left in the third period.

Colin Wilson also scored for the Predators in his first game of the postseason, having missed the Chicago series because of a lower-body injury, and he likely must play a major role if the team is going to overcome the loss of Fiala.

Wilson led the Predators in playoff points a year ago, when they lost in the second round to the San Jose Sharks. They are trying to advance to the first Western Conference finals in franchise history.

“He’s awesome in the playoffs,” Ellis said of Wilson. “He’s been good for us all year, so he’s adapted to his role on the team, and he’s one of the guys we lean heavily on. Now losing Kev, we’re going to rely on him even more than ever.”

Wilson does not believe he will be able to carry the load alone.

“Throughout the year, I think we’re a little bit inconsistent, but when we played our game, we were always unstoppable,” Wilson told NHL.com. “We have a lot of talent, great D, great goaltending, all-around strong team with a lot of depth. Watching them was fun, but being a part of it is a lot better.”

The Blues saw ways they can be better after the Game 1 loss, primarily by avoiding penalties that helped put them in a 3-1 hole in the second period. Two of the Predators’ goals came on power plays.

“They put us on our heels, put us behind, created a lot of momentum,” St. Louis goalie Jake Allen said. “When we didn’t have to kill any penalties, it changed the game. I thought we played really well five-on-five.”

That performance did not result in a win, however, which is becoming a problem on home ice for the Blues. They are now 1-2 at home this season, compared to a 3-0 record on the road.

“We have to be better at home,” Blues coach Mike Yeo said. “We put ourselves in a tough position by not coming out and putting our best game in front of us (in Game 1). We have to be a little more focus and committed to playing a 60-minute game. For me, this time of year, you should definitely feel some momentum and energy from your crowd.

“There were some things (Wednesday) we can build off, things we certainly learned about their team and things we need to do to be successful.”

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Hurricanes get Scott Darling from Blackhawks for third-rounder

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If you’re looking at that headline regarding the Carolina Hurricanes nabbing Scott Darling from the Chicago Blackhawks in a state of awe, don’t feel too badly.

TSN’s Pierre LeBrun reports that even Darling’s representatives didn’t see it coming.

But it did indeed happen, as the Hurricanes sent a third-round pick in 2017 to Chicago for Darling. It sounds like the Blackhawks were going to part ways with Darling one way or another, so they get a decent pick for their trouble.

Darling is scheduled to be a UFA this summer, so the Hurricanes must believe that they can sign a goalie Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman described as “always reliable.”

The Hurricanes could have chosen to keep Darling in their organization, but apparently he didn’t make a huge first impression during this opportunity:

“Reliable” might honestly be selling Darling, 28, a little short. In 75 regular season games, he generated a fantastic .923 save percentage and even excelled when called upon in the playoffs.

With the Hurricanes’ mess in net in mind, you have to credit GM Ron Francis & Co. for being proactive … assuming they can sign Darling to a reasonable deal.

Carolina and Chicago seem comfortable as trade partners, as the two teams also made the Teuvo Teravainen/Bryan Bickell deal fairly recently.