NHL Playoffs, Blackhawks vs. Sharks, Game 4: O Pavelski, where art thou?

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Chicago
Blackhawks vs. San Jose Sharks, Game 4

3:00 p.m. EDT, May 23, 2010
Live on NBC

Blackhawks lead series 3-0

To be fair, this
entire San Jose Sharks team has been immensely frustrated by the
Blackhawks. They’ve scored just five goals in three games despite
putting 118 shots on net between all three losses.

Yet
you have to wonder: what happened to Joe Pavelski?

Pavelski,
still the leading scorer in the playoffs for the Sharks, had nine goals
and six assists in the first two series and became the answer for the
question “how do the Sharks win if Joe Thornton struggles again?”

His dominant play in the second round against the Red Wings
took the pressure off of Thornton and the other star players on the
team, knowing that they wouldn’t be relied upon to provide all the
offense once more. Pavelski’s emergence was also supposed to be the
difference from past seasons, giving the Sharks the edge they needed to
finally get over the wall they hit every year in the postseason.

His line in three games against the Blackhawks: 0 goals, 1
assist, 11 shots.

So now the Sharks are right back
where they were, with Joe Thornton and the top line with all the
pressure to score and once again failing to do so. The Hawks have used
their checking line to perfection against Thornton, with Dave Bolland
frustrating Thornton to an incredible degree.

With
Pavelski failing to continue his hot play against the Blackhawks, here
are the stats for the top players on the Sharks so far this series:

Joe Thornton – 0 goals, 1 assist; even.

Dany
Heatley – 0 goals, 2 assists, minus-3

Dan Boyle – 0
goals, 5 assists, minus-1

Patrick Marleau – 4 goals, 1
assist, minus-3

Anything stand out about those
numbers?

Pavelski’s struggles have played right into
the hands of the Blackhawks, who have been able to stick their third
line on Thornton and then let loose with Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane
and company. The Sharks have yet to be able to respond, and Dustin
Byfuglien’s performance is proof of just how valuable secondary scoring
is the deeper you get into the playoffs (I understand he plays on the
top line).

The Sharks are hoping to at least make
this an interesting series and avoid the sweep this afternoon. Without
Joe Pavelski (among others) actually stepping up, they won’t have
anything resembling a chance of prolonging this series.

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.