Chicago dismantles Vancouver 5-1 to win series

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bolland.jpgFor a tiny chunk of the third period, it looked like the Canucks were going to at least make things interesting. Shane O’Brien scored a goal to make it 3-1 and the team generated some nice chances. Perhaps that simply woke up the Blackhawks, though, as two constant nuisances – Patrick Kane and Dustin Byfuglien – scored clinching goals to make the deciding game a laugher for a second straight year.

Chicago Blackhawks 5, Vancouver Canucks 1

Blackhawks win series 4-2

Each of the five Blackhawks goals came from collective failures on the part of the Canucks. You can try to point a finger at Roberto Luongo, but his team left him out on an island over and over again. He was splendid in the team’s two wins but human-to-weak in the four losses. That’s just not good enough against the talented Chicago team. 

The Sedin twins will be thrown under the bus too, although their stat lines aren’t as bad as you might think. (Henrik put up two goals and four assists, Daniel managed one goal and three assists.) The fact is, those guys produced amazing point per game totals during the regular season so any drop-off would hurt the team. The most telling stat is that they both ended up with a goose egg in this one (and the Canucks were 0-3 in the playoffs when that happens).

Chicago must have a ton of confidence right now. Antti NIemi provides steady goaltending for a team that lacks many flaws otherwise. Byfuglien might be the team’s truest “villain” while Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane are among the league’s best forwards. But what really makes the team stand out is its unparalleled depth; from Marian Hossa to Patrick Sharp to Kris Versteeg (and tonight, Dave Bolland), it seems like the Blackhawks can call on a different supporting cast member every night. I didn’t even mention their talented D-core, either, with great players like Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook supported by some other complimentary parts.

The Canucks have a lot of soul searching to do right now. On one hand, the season was impressive as the team persevered through a brutal road trip to win their division and get to the second round of the playoffs. That being said, they still have plenty of questions to answer from Luongo to the Sedin twins to how to get over the hump against Chicago.

A Blackhawks-Sharks series should be a real treat for hockey nerds such as myself. Both teams can throw out multiple, quality lines and play a wide-open (or defensively tight) style of hockey. It should be a treat to watch and we’ll take you through each exciting game at PHT.

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
AP
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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.