Tonight's games: A hope and a prayer

Once again, there’s a playoff impact (either big or small) for every one of tonight’s games. There are four that stand out as being more interesting, though, so we’ll focus on those.

Vancouver Canucks (46-26-4, 96 pts) at Los Angeles Kings (43-27-6, 92 pts) 10:30 PM ET

I have to admit, I’m starting to wonder if Vancouver is the team that is best equipped for a deep playoff run in the West since they have a little bit of everything. The Kings, on the other hand, are a solid but not-quite-there-yet club that still needs to ensure its place in the playoffs.

Atlanta Thrashers (34-31-12, 80 pts) at Washington Capitals (49-15-12, 110 pts) 7 PM ET

The Capitals can be excused for being vaguely disinterested in this one since they already wrapped up the top spot in the East. The Thrashers have to feel good about their chances since they’re only two points behind the bottom three playoff teams in the East. Of course, we’re all aware of their murderous final five games, though.

St. Louis Blues (37-30-9, 83 pts) at Nashville Predators (44-28-6, 94 pts) 8 PM ET

The Blues are heating up right now, winning three in a row, but they would need to win their next six games and get a lot of breaks to get into the playoffs. I’m hoping that I didn’t put the whammy on the Predators, who were scratching and clawing to an 8-1-1 record before I praised them as a dark horse candidate. Then again, 8-2-1 isn’t too bad either, right?

Carolina Hurricanes (33-35-9, 75 pts) at Ottawa Senators (42-30-5, 89 pts) 7:30 PM ET

The Senators are on the verge of clinching a spot in the playoffs while the Hurricanes are hoping for a miraculous last second run into the post-season. Both teams are playing pretty well right now, with Ottawa especially hot on a five game winning streak.

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    Penguins push Capitals to brink of elimination with OT win

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    The Pittsburgh Penguins ended a long run of playoff overtime struggles on Wednesday … and are now one win away from ending the Washington Capitals’ season.

    Many expected the Penguins to crater on defense without Kris Letang (they were 2-8-1 in the regular season without him). While there were shaky moments, Pittsburgh emphasized its speed and other strengths in taking a 3-2 overtime thriller against Washington.

    With that, the Penguins’ series lead grows to 3-1.

    It was a thrilling, sometimes nasty contest, from Sidney Crosby shaking off an Alex Ovechkin slash, to Evgeni Malkin delivering a hit some thought was over the line and plenty of typical playoff skirmishes.

    Ultimately, Matt Murray played another strong game and Patric Hornqvist scored the overtime-winner to put the Capitals in a tough spot.

    The Penguins lost their previous eight playoff overtime games, so maybe it was just a matter of time before such a game went their way?

    Then again, the history between the two teams is a little different:

    If the Capitals want to advance beyond the second round for the first time in the Ovechkin era, they’ll need to accomplish quite the feat against arguably the hottest team in the NHL.

    Sidney Crosby looks hurt (and furious) after Alex Ovechkin slash

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    NBCSN screen
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    Sidney Crosby is known to get fiery, but even for his feisty standards, he was furious during the third period of Game 4.

    An Alex Ovechkin slash caught Crosby on the hand, leaving the Pittsburgh Penguins star shaking his mitt and pleading for a call.

    After that, Crosby left to get his hand looked at … but not before flipping out and destroying his stick.

    You can watch it happen in the GIF and the videos above.

    Crosby was able to return not that long after that moment, although we can only speculate regarding how his overall game will be affected if his hand isn’t 100 percent.

    Dirty or not? Evgeni Malkin’s hit on Daniel Winnik

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    Tensions seem to rise with every passing game in the playoffs, particularly in a series with bad blood like the one between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals.

    Kris Letang was suspended for his hit in Game 3, and some wonder if Evgeni Malkin should suffer a similar fate for his check on Daniel Winnik on Wednesday.

    Winnik left the contest and has not yet returned during the third period.

    Take a look at the hit in the video above and decide for yourself.

    Blues aim to raise money for victims of Fort McMurray fires

    An evacuee puts gas in his car on his way out of Fort McMurray, Alberta, as a wildfire burns in the background Wednesday, May 4, 2016. The raging wildfire emptied Canada's main oil sands city, destroying entire neighborhoods of Fort McMurray, where officials warned Wednesday that all efforts to suppress the fire have failed.  (Jason Franson /The Canadian Press via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT
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    Fires devastated the Canadian city of Fort McMurray, and the St. Louis Blues are doing their part to help those who were affected.

    Here’s what the team is doing to raise money during Game 4 against the Dallas Stars:

    Proceeds raised through the team’s 50/50 raffle and the Blues for Kids silent auction will benefit families who have been misplaced by the fires.

    Blues forward Scottie Upshall shared his thoughts with the Associated Press regarding several family members being among those evacuated from the area.

    “It’s been a great city, a city that’s survived for many years through some tough times and for me, growing up there doesn’t seem too long ago,” Upshall said. “Places that probably aren’t standing anymore will be really, really tough to take. But as long as everyone’s OK, that’s the main thing.”

    Other people from around the hockey world weighed in on the scary scene, including Ottawa Senators defenseman Chris Phillips, who told the Ottawa Citizen that “it hurts a lot.”

    People shared some scary sights from the evacuation.