Predators lose injured C Ryan Johansen for rest of playoffs

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Anaheim Ducks defenseman Kevin Bieksa (2) battles against Nashville Predators center Ryan Johansen (92) in the second period of Game 4 of the Western Conference final in the NHL hockey Stanley Cup playoffs Thursday, May 18, 2017, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

(AP) — Nashville center Ryan Johansen will miss the rest of the Stanley Cup playoffs after emergency surgery on a left thigh injury, leaving the Predators without their top scorer heading into Game 5 of the Western Conference finals.

The Predators announced the injury Friday after the club traveled to Anaheim to face the Ducks on Saturday night.

Johansen was injured during the Ducks’ overtime victory in Game 4, which evened the series.

The smooth forward leads the Predators with 13 points in 14 playoff games while centering their top line with Filip Forsberg and Viktor Arvidsson. Johansen also scored 61 regular-season points to match Arvidsson for the team lead.

The Predators didn’t immediately specify how or when Johansen was injured, but he had surgery late Thursday at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. He will need at least two months to recover, ending his season at a crucial moment in the longest playoff run in Predators history.

Johansen had one goal and three assists in four games against the Ducks, who deployed their shutdown defensive line centered by Ryan Kesler against Nashville’s top line. Johansen reacted angrily to Kesler’s defensive persistence after Game 2, complaining about the Selke Trophy candidate’s physical play.

The Predators also could be without captain Mike Fisher, a depth-line center. Fisher was injured during the third period of Game 4 when Anaheim defenseman John Manson accidentally hit him in the head with a knee while leaping to reach a puck.

To address their sudden depth problems down the middle, the Predators could promote center Calle Jarnkrok to their top line while moving Colin Wilson from wing to center. They also could activate 37-year-old center Vernon Fiddler, who played in the first two games of the conference finals before sitting out the last two.

Johansen is the second key Nashville player to incur a season-ending injury in the playoffs. Young Swiss forward Kevin Fiala broke his leg in the opening game of the Predators’ second-round series against St. Louis last month.

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