Ryan Johansen lashed out at Ryan Kesler following the Anaheim center’s elbow to the head of his Nashville counterpart in the Ducks‘ 5-3 Game 2 home victory over the Predators on Sunday.

Predators’ Ryan Johansen Criticizes Ducks’ Ryan Kesler Game 2

Kesler and Johansen were physical with each other the entire night, and one of the biggest hits came early in the game when the former aggressively elbowed the latter in the head. The Predators star also took a high-sticking penalty on the Ducks center in the second period.

“He just blows my mind,” Johansen told reporters after the game. “I don’t know what’s going through his head out there. His family and friends watching him play, I don’t know how you cheer for a guy like that.”

The 24-year-old Canadian, who scored Nashville’s opening goal at 4:18 of the first period, continued his diatribe against Kesler.

“It just doesn’t make sense how he plays the game,” Johansen said. “I’m just trying to go out there and play hockey, and it sucks when you have to pull a stick out of your groin after every shift.”

Kesler, meanwhile, seemed unapologetic about his violent playing style.

“I play the game hard and obviously he doesn’t like that,” the Ducks center responded.

Predators coach Peter Laviolette lauded Johansen for his performance on Sunday and for remaining calm after Kesler’s hits.

“I think Ryan has been completely composed,” Laviolette said. “The penalty that he took tonight was a face-off where he was battling for a puck, and the stick came up. I think it was more accidental than anything.”

Johansen’s teammate Filip Forsberg echoed Laviolette’s sentiment: the Predators forward also noted how well the center played in Friday’s 3-2 overtime victory over the Ducks at Honda Center.

“I think (Johansen) is playing unbelievable. You saw the first period, he was the best player on the ice by far and after that I think he was still playing well,” Forsberg said. “You can look at the statistics. He is showing up every category and I think he has been playing really well for the first two (games).”

The NHL Conference Finals between the Ducks and Predators is tied 1-1. Game 3 is Tuesday at 8 pm in Nashville.

ANAHEIM, CA – MAY 14: Ryan Johansen #92 of the Nashville Predators protects the puck from Ryan Kesler #17 of the Anaheim Ducks in the first period of Game Two of the Western Conference Final during the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Honda Center on May 14, 2017 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

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