<span class="vcard">Ryan Dadoun</span>

Red Bull Salzburg v Lulea Hockey - Champions Hockey League Round of 16

Predators ink Swedish league blueliner Kristian Nakyva

The Nashville Predators announced that they have signed Kristian Nakyva to a one-year, entry-level contract.

Nakyva is a 24-year-old defenseman that recorded 10 goals and 29 points in 55 games with the Swedish League’s Lulea HF in 2014-15. That was good enough to put him in a tie for fifth in points among blueliners. He was also in a four-way tie for first place in defensemen goal scoring.

The Finnish-born player was never drafted by an NHL squad and spent the previous three years playing for the Finnish league’s JYP.

This isn’t the first time the Predators have turned to the Swedish League to add to their defensive depth. They also signed Johan Alm last year under similar circumstances and the 23-year-old went on to record 11 assists in 44 games with the AHL Milwaukee Admirals this season.

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    Price, Dubnyk, Rinne are Vezina Trophy finalists

    Carey Price
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    The general managers have had their say and unsurprisingly they’ve picked Montreal’s Carey Price, Minnesota’s Devan Dubnyk, and Nashville’s Pekka Rinne as the three finalists for the 2015 Vezina Trophy.

    Of course, Price is regarded as the heavy favorite for the 2015 Vezina Trophy. He led the league in wins (44), GAA (1.96), and save percentage (.933) while starting in 66 games. He’s also been the single biggest component of the Canadiens’ successful 2014-15 campaign and consequently the discussion has shifted as to whether or not he’s worthy of the Hart Trophy as well.

    For a time though it looked like fellow nominee Rinne might be able to take the Vezina instead as he was having almost as good of a campaign. However, while Price stayed strong throughout 2014-15, Rinne did falter in the second half. After the All-Star break the Nashville goaltender posted a 2.48 GAA and .911 save percentage in 27 contests. That was enough to make him slip to the point where he finished third in GAA (2.18) and tied for seventh in save percentage (.923) in 64 starts. He still tied for second in wins though with 41.

    That being said, Price wasn’t the league’s best goaltender after the All-Star break, although he was a very close second. Devan Dubnyk dominated over that span with a 25-8-2 record, 1.72 GAA, and .939 save percentage in 35 games. That covers most of his tenure with the Wild, but his time with the Arizona Coyotes at the start of the season wasn’t nearly as flattering from a statistical perspective. He was still impressive in Arizona, especially given how the team was playing in front of him, but that time does drag his overall numbers down somewhat. Even still, he ranked second in GAA (2.07) and save percentage (.929) in 58 games this season.

    Preds, Forsberg finally solve Darling, push series to Game 6

    Filip Forsberg, Scott Darling
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    The Nashville Predators’ backs are against the ropes, but they’re still swinging. After spending the better part of the contest tied, Nashville broke out early in the third period to earn a 5-2 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks.

    On the same day that he was officially left off the list of Calder Trophy finalists, 20-year-old forward Filip Forsberg led the charge for the Predators with a hat trick. He scored their first goal at 14:42 of the first period to swiftly end Chicago’s early one-goal edge. He chipped in again in the third period to round out Nashville’s remarkable run of three goals in under three minutes:

    Patrick Kane and Kris Versteeg combined for a beautiful goal with just over five minutes remaining in the contest, but at that point it wasn’t enough to change the course of this game. Chicago went into tonight with an opportunity to eliminate the Predators and they couldn’t get the job done.

    With the net empty, Forsberg was able to collect his final marker of the contest with 11 seconds to spare.

    Blackhawks goaltender Scott Darling had a commanding .969 save percentage in his first three playoff contests, but the 26-year-old rookie netminder had a rough game tonight, stopping just 24 of 28 shots. Meanwhile Patrick Sharp and Jonathan Toews were each limited to a pair of shots on goal.

    The silver lining for the Blackhawks is that they have another chance to advance in Game 6 on Saturday and this time the Blackhawks will be playing at home.

     

    Islanders don’t want to leave Nassau Coliseum on losing note

    Minnesota Wild v New York Islanders
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    There’s always next season. It’s a phrase no team or fan likes to hear while there’s still at least a glimmer of hope, but it’s true — or at least it is most of the time. Sure, if the New York Islanders lose in Game 6 on Saturday, they’ll still look like a competitive squad going into 2015-16, but for many it won’t be the same. For the first time since 1972, the Islanders will no longer be playing in Nassau Coliseum and while that’s a decision that comes with benefits, it doesn’t change the fact that they would like to give their longtime home a proper sendoff.

    There can only be one finale and a first-round exit doesn’t sound like a particularly good one.

    “The effort (in Game 6) is going to be there,” Islanders defenseman Thomas Hickey said, per the New York Daily News’ Stephen Lorenzo. “We know that. We know what it means to our fans. That can’t be the last game there. It just can’t be the last game for them.”

    Islanders bench boss Jack Capuano agreed that it shouldn’t be hard for the team to stay motivated under these circumstances, according to the Monumental Network.

    “If you can’t (get motivated), you’re in the wrong profession or you’re wearing the wrong sweater,” Capuano said. “We got great fans, it’s been a great building all year.”

    Of course, the Islanders need to do more than just win on Saturday to ensure that Nassau Coliseum will host another Islanders’ game. Washington took a 3-2 series lead with its commanding 5-1 victory tonight. In order for New York to dig itself out of that hole, it also has to beat the Capitals in Washington on Monday.

    Thinking about that would be looking too far ahead for the Islanders though. They have far more immediate problems to worry about and at least one more chance to win in Uniondale.

    WATCH LIVE: Tonight’s Stanley Cup Playoff action

    Mattias Ekholm, Bryan Bickell, Pekka Rinne
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    The Winnipeg Jets were the first team eliminated from the 2015 playoffs yesterday and we might see two more teams get knocked off tonight. The Predators and Canucks are fighting for their playoff lives against the Blackhawks and Flames respectively. Before those contests start though, Detroit will attempt to take a 3-1 series lead against Tampa Bay while the Islanders and Capitals will battle to break that series’ tie.

    Game 4 of the series between the Lightning and Red Wings will air on NBCSN and can also be streamed online via NBC Sports Live Extra by clicking on the link below. The game is scheduled to start at 7:00 p.m. ET, but you can tune in at 6:30 p.m. ET for pregame coverage:

    CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE

    Game 5 of the Islanders vs. Capitals is also scheduled to start at 7:00 p.m. ET. You can watch that contest on CNBC or via the link below:

    CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE

    Chicago’s quest to eliminate Nashville will start at 9:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN. Please note that each game airing on NBCSN has its own unique URL for the livestream:

    CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE

    Lastly, the Canucks will try to extend their playoff run in Game 5 against the Calgary Flames, beginning at 10:00 p.m. ET. The contest will air as the second part of CNBC’s doubleheader, but it also has its own unique livestream URL:

    CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE