Corey Perry

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Expansion draft will force Ducks to make some big decisions

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Bob Murray managed to keep the Anaheim Ducks together for a shot at the Stanley Cup.

But after losing to Nashville in the Western Conference Final, Anaheim’s general manager will now have to make some big decisions — especially with the expansion draft looming.

If the Ducks decide to protect seven forwards and three defensemen, the blue line will definitely be worth watching. Hampus Lindholm will be protected for sure, and Shea Theodore and Brandon Montour are each exempt. But that only leaves two spots for Sami Vatanen, Kevin Bieksa, Cam Fowler, and Josh Manson.

Bieksa, 35, has a no-movement clause, so unless the Ducks find a way to get around that, they’ll need to protect him. (Chances are, they’ll seek a way around it, either via trade or buyout or just convincing him to waive.)

Fowler, meanwhile, only has one year left on his contract before he can become an unrestricted free agent. And after the season he just had, with 39 points in 80 games, the 25-year-old won’t be cheap to re-sign. For that reason, it’s possible Murray may choose to shop Fowler instead. Or perhaps it’s Vatanen that goes on the block.

Yes, there is the option to protect four defensemen and four forwards. But Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, and Ryan Kesler all have NMCs, and the Ducks won’t want to expose Rickard Rakell or Jakob Silfverberg.

In goal, the Ducks have John Gibson under club control for years to come, but they’ll need to choose a backup. Jonathan Bernier is an unrestricted free agent, and even though he played well during the regular season, his performance against the Predators wasn’t great. Murray may want to at least consider his options there.

Related: Fowler surprised he wasn’t traded

Video: Ducks’ 3-3 goal survives goalie interference review

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When the Nashville Predators went up 3-1 in the third period, it seemed like they might finally put the Anaheim Ducks away in Game 6. The Ducks quickly responded with “Not yet.”

Two minutes after that 3-1 goal, Chris Wagner kept Anaheim’s hopes alive with a surprising tally. Corey Perry then bumped Pekka Rinne, but he was able to reset before Cam Fowler scored the 3-3 goal 8:52 into the final frame (of regulation).

In less than six minutes of game time, the tone of the contest changed rapidly. Now we’ll see if either team can get the next tally in the remaining minutes of the third or if the Stanley Cup Playoffs will see yet another overtime contest.

Here’s the Wagner goal:

You can see the 3-3 goal in the video above. Hold onto your seats.

Update: Moments after this was published, Colton Sissons‘ hat-trick goal made it 4-3. Could there be even more drama? We’ll see …

Game 6 is airing on NBCSN. You can watch online and via the NBC Sports App. Click here for the livestream link.

Predators’ Johansen done for playoffs after emergency thigh surgery

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Nashville’s Stanley Cup chances were dealt a crushing blow on Friday.

Per Sportsnet, No. 1 center and leading scorer Ryan Johansen suffered a season-ending thigh injury during last night’s OT loss. The ailment will require surgery and 2-3 months of recovery following the procedure.

Update: Nashville released a statement confirming the initial Sportsnet report. The Preds added that Johansen underwent emergency surgery at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, and that the procedure was successful.

Johansen, 24, was averaging 20:46 TOI per night through 14 playoff games and, as mentioned, led all Preds with 13 points.

It’s unclear when Johansen’s injury occurred. He played nearly 28 minutes last night, his highest TOI of the playoffs, and was taking regular shifts in overtime, his last coming just before Corey Perry scored the winner midway through the extra session.

Prior to the injury, Johansen had been engaged in an ongoing battle with Anaheim center Ryan Kesler. He took Kesler to task after being hounded throughout Game 2.

“I don’t know how you cheer for a guy like that,” Johansen said. “It just doesn’t make sense how he plays the game. I’m just trying to go out there and play hockey and it sucks when you’ve got to pull a stick out of your groin every shift.”

With Johansen out, Nashville is facing some serious issues down the middle. Veteran center Mike Fisher left last night’s game with an undisclosed injury, and there’s been no update on his status. If Fisher joins Johansen on the sidelines, Calle Jarnkrok could be Nashville’s No. 1 center on Saturday night.

Ducks need to do a better job of staying out of the box in crucial moments

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The Anaheim Ducks were able to get off to a fantastic start in Nashville during Game 4 (they dominated the shot clock 14-2 and led 1-0 heading into the second period).

But despite going into the third frame with a 2-0 lead, they allowed the Predators to force overtime.

Anaheim still managed to pick up the win to tie the series, but there are some things they’ll have to clean up if they want to advance to the Stanley Cup Final.

Taking less penalties in crucial moments has to be near the top of the list.

The Ducks took four penalties (yes, four) during the third period of last night’s game. Corey Perry (slashing) at the 8:02 mark, Ondrej Kase (tripping) at the 11:25 mark, Kevin Bieksa (hi-sticking) at the 14:53 mark, and Josh Manson (slashing) at the 15:22 mark.

The Bieksa and Manson penalties gave the Preds a 5-on-3 power play in the late stages of the period. Nashville didn’t cash in on those opportunities on the man-advantage, but anytime a team has to kill that many penalties, it forces them to expend more energy.

To their credit, Anaheim did a great job of settling themselves down after blowing the lead with 35 seconds remaining. They came out for overtime and got the game-winning goal from Perry to even up the series.

“I can tell you you’re going to be frustrated, but we had to reset ourselves,” head coach Randy Carlyle said after the game. “And that’s one of the things — officiating is something that when it’s done you can’t control it. You don’t have any control over what’s just happened.

“The only thing you can control is how you reset yourself and how you plan to move forward. And I thought that we did a good job of understanding that we can’t change what just happened, but we sure can make an impression and go out and give us what you’ve got.”

Anaheim went from near disaster to being in a pretty good spot. The best-of-seven series is now tied at two, and if it goes to the distance, the Ducks will host two of the three games.

Carlyle on Predators crashing Ducks’ net, big shots difference in Game 3

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Rather than balking at the challenge, the Nashville Predators responded to a 1-0 deficit and a great John Gibson performance by just imposing their will in an eventual 2-1 Game 3 win.

The Predators overcame back-to-back canceled-out goals in that rush to succeed, and there are at least some who wonder if they were crashing Gibson’s net in a way that wasn’t quite innocent.

(Granted, every team kind of sort of goes for that … just some tend to collide with netminders more than others. And sometimes it seems a little more intentional than others.)

You can watch the two negated goals in the video above.

Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle didn’t provide bulletin board material on the subject like Ryan Johansen did regarding Ryan Kesler, but his comments were still interesting:

Again, intriguing, but not sassy. Carlyle was far sassier in disputing the Predators’ mammoth shot differential in Game 3, which was listed as a 40-20 shot edge in Nashville’s favor.

Carlyle thought the shot counter might need glasses, prompting onlookers to make less-than-flattering comparisons to his days with the Toronto Maple Leafs. To Carlyle’s credit, he still admitted that the game was pretty lopsided at times.

One would expect a more aggressive Anaheim attack in Game 4, even with that contest in Nashville. Considering Corey Perry‘s notorious crease-crashing tendencies, Pekka Rinne may also want to be alert.

You can watch Game 4 on NBCSN at 8 p.m. ET on Thursday. You can watch online and via the NBC Sports App (Click here for the livestream).