After missing Round 1, hits leader Thompson back for Ducks

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The Anaheim Ducks will have some additional sandpaper in the lineup tonight as Nate Thompson will return from injury to face the Flames in Game 1 of their second-round series.

Thompson, out since Apr. 11 with an upper-body ailment, had a pretty productive first season in Anaheim — he scored five goals and 18 points in 80 games while averaging 13:19 TOI per night. The 30-year-old also led the team in hits, with 204, and finished third among forwards in blocked shots.

Thompson’s presence will be a boon for Anaheim as it looks to match the physicality Calgary brought in its opening-round series against Vancouver. The Flames out-hit the Canucks 163-118 over the six-game series, with the likes of Micheal Ferland and Joe Colborne leading the way.

Related: Flames trio of Wideman, Russell, and Brodie are ‘basically our motor offensively’

Here’s your Stanley Cup playoff TV schedule for tonight

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A quick look at what games will be on what channels in tonight’s Stanley Cup playoff action…

Capitals at Rangers, 7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN

For the fourth time in five years and fifth time in seven the New York Rangers and Washington Capitals are meeting in the playoffs. The last two playoff meetings between the clubs have gone seven games with the Rangers winning both. The Rangers won three of four meetings between the two teams during the regular season. John Forslund and Pierre McGuire have the call of Game 1 from Madison Square Garden.

Flames at Ducks, 10:00 p.m. ET on NBCSN

The Anaheim Ducks are looking to avoid another second round loss as they play host to the Calgary Flames in Game 1 tonight. The L.A. Kings bounced the Ducks from last spring’s playoffs in seven games. Meanwhile the Flames are in the second round of the playoffs for the first time since 2004 when they came one win shy of capturing the franchise’s second Stanley Cup. Jonas Hiller, who spent parts of seven seasons with the Ducks, will be Calgary’s Game 1 starter. Dave Strader and Brian Engblom will be on the call from the Honda Center.

Flames trio of Wideman, Russell, and Brodie are ‘basically our motor offensively’

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When the Calgary Flames finished off the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday, not only did they advance to the second round in six games, they also avoided a seventh and deciding contest, thus buying a few extra days to rest up for the Anaheim Ducks.

Those few extra days could prove key, given all the ice time that three Flames defensemen — Dennis Wideman, Kris Russell, and T.J. Brodie — have been logging.

“We asked those guys to play lots of minutes,” coach Bob Hartley said Tuesday, per the Canadian Press. “They’re very important in our game. We just don’t want them to defend. They’re basically our motor offensively.”

Indeed.

Wideman, Russell, and Brodie each registered four points against the Canucks, their puck-moving abilities drawing rave reviews, especially when compared to Vancouver’s inability to handle Calgary’s forecheck.

Looking ahead to Thursday’s series opener in Anaheim, expect the Ducks to do all they can to wear down the Flames’ trusted trio, laying the body whenever possible, a la Matt Beleskey on Adam Pardy:

Just don’t expect said trio to roll over.

“Those guys have the power of recovering very well,” said Hartley. “They’re great athletes and they want those minutes, they love those responsibilities. They’re giving us unbelievable hockey.”

Related: Giordano to have surgery, is ‘done for the season’

Rutherford admits mistakes, but has support of Penguins ownership

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You may question some of his moves, but you can’t say he lacks candor.

Penguins GM Jim Rutherford met with reporters today in Pittsburgh, and proceeded to:

Admit the club erred in the development of Beau Bennett, that the player should have spent more time in the AHL.
Express regret for trading young defenseman Simon Despres for veteran defenseman Ben Lovejoy.
Concede he could have handled an interaction with a certain member of the media better.

Those were the mistakes for which he held himself accountable.

But Rutherford also said:

— He has the full support of ownership to make the changes he sees fit, which may include buyouts. (Rob Scuderi?)
— He will look to add a top-six winger, most likely through a trade, given the dearth of options in free agency.
— The head coach he hired, Mike Johnston, did a good job, and the players said so.

Anyway, it should be a very interesting offseason in Pittsburgh. The Penguins have a number of pending unrestricted free agents, including Paul Martin, Christian Ehrhoff, Steve Downie and Thomas Greiss.

It could also be a challenging one for Rutherford. If he wants to add a top-six winger through a trade, what, exactly, could he offer in return? He already traded his first-round pick to get David Perron, and it’s not like the Penguins are blessed with an overabundance of prospects.

Besides, they need to develop their prized youngsters, not trade them away for short-term fixes. (You know, like they traded away Després.)

Related: Friedman says Penguins need to ‘think about’ trading Malkin

Bettman under fire after saying ‘Katy Perry’ chant wasn’t sexist

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From the Associated Press:

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman doesn’t believe Winnipeg Jets fans were being “sexist in the slightest” by comparing Anaheim Ducks forward Corey Perry to pop singer Katy Perry.

Bettman likens the chants to goalies being called “sieves.” The commissioner was in Winnipeg on Monday for the chants during Game 3 of the first-round playoff series.

Predictably, Bettman’s remarks have ignited a media firestorm, with Yahoo Sports’ Greg Wyshynski going so far as to call them “rage-inducing.”

The Wall Street Journal has a more detailed breakdown of the exchange between Bettman and reporters.

Frankly, we wish the commissioner had just acknowledged how the chant could be seen as sexist and how some people might have been put off by it, even if it wasn’t the worst thing to have ever been chanted at a hockey game.