San Jose Sharks v Vancouver Canucks - Game Two

Logan Couture and Sharks agree to two-year extension

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The San Jose Sharks have been one of the busiest teams of the offseason. Just because it’s the middle of August, it doesn’t look like Sharks GM Doug Wilson is showing any signs of slowing down. Ray Ratto of CSN Bay Area is reporting that the Sharks will announce a two-year extension with Logan Couture that will keep him in San Jose through the 2013-14 season.

Couture was the Calder Trophy runner-up last season, as he finished second in rookie goal scoring (32) and second in rookie points (56). But just as impressive as the statistics the talented center put up; his ability to grow into a responsible two-way player as a 21-year-old really turned heads. Since turning 22, he continued to grow as he showed that he can produce in the playoffs as well. His 7 goals and 14 points in 18 games were both second in rookie playoff scoring.

After being named to the 2010-11 NHL All-Rookie team and proving to be a valuable part of the Sharks organization, it was no secret that San Jose would want to re-sign Couture. But to sign him 10 months before he became a restricted free agent comes as a bit of a surprise. Then again, this is the same front office that was able to lock-up newly acquired defensemen Brent Burns almost a full year before he hit the open market. Say what you want about GM Doug Wilson’s moves—at least the man is proactive.

The big question about Couture’s extension will be the salary he collects for two seasons. His entry-level deal carries a $1.24 million cap hit—the extension will undoubtedly bring a healthy raise. With Couture’s extension, the Sharks now have five natural centers locked up for the next two seasons in Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, Joe Pavelski, Logan Couture, and Michal Handzus. With Marleau playing on the wing over the last couple of seasons, and word that Andrew Desjardins will get every opportunity to lock-down the 4th line center role, the Sharks have no shortage of centers. No wonder the Sharks were able to part with a guy like Charlie Coyle in the Brent Burns trade.

We’ll keep our eye on the story as more details emerge from San Jose.

Update, 11:37 a.m.: CSNBayArea’s Brodie Brazil says Couture’s deal is worth $5.75 million for the two years on his extension.

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.