While Tuesday’s match between the two top Eastern Conference teams probably only muddied the picture regarding which squad is the strongest on that side, the Vancouver Canucks made it that much clearer that they are the class of the West tonight.
Daniel Sedin scored two goals to strengthen his chances of joining his brother as a Hart Trophy winner while Roberto Luongo made 39 saves to power the Canucks’ 2-1 win against the West’s second ranked team, the Detroit Red Wings.
Vancouver 2, Detroit 1
Each teams rotated strong periods, as the Red Wings out-shot the Canucks in the first period (11-5) and third (17-8) while Vancouver dominated a busy second (20-12). Daniel celebrated the recent birth of his daughter by scoring the Canucks’ goals, with the first being an attempted pass that went off (fellow potential Hart nominee) Nick Lidstrom’s skate while his game winner was a hard shot on the power play. Henrik Sedin earned the primary assist on both of his twin’s goals.
Jiri Hudler scored a power-play goal to make it 2-1, but it wasn’t enough for the Red Wings.
Before concerned Detroit fans prepare to throw Jimmy Howard under the bus, he had a good game, stopping 31 out of 33 shots. His performance wasn’t good enough to stop Luongo from earning his 34th win of the season, though.
This marks Vancouver’s sixth consecutive road win, an impressive feat considering the fact that just about every team they play against has more riding on each game than they do. The win pushes them to 105 points, giving them a 10-point lead over Detroit for first place with only eight games left for both teams.
The Canucks haven’t clinched the West’s top spot yet, but they are awfully close to doing so. The Red Wings remain at 95 points, with a comfortable Central Division lead and tenuous grasp on the second seed ahead of the San Jose Sharks. The Sharks can narrow the gap between themselves and Detroit to one point with a win against the Calgary Flames tonight.
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 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.
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.
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.