Anze Kopitar, Semyon Varlamov

Tonight on NBCSN: Kings look to keep scoring against tumbling Avalanche

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When the Los Angeles Kings roll into Denver tonight to take on the Colorado Avalanche (9:00 p.m. ET on NBCSN), they do so with a bitter taste in their mouth. After leaving Jonathan Quick on the short end of the stick more often than not, the Kings’ strong defense went out the window blowing a 3-0 lead on Phoenix and losing 5-4 in a shootout to the Coyotes.

The Kings are 4-7-2 over their last 13 games and have perilous grip on a spot in the top eight of the Western Conference playoff race. In that span goals have been hard to come by. In that span, five times they scored just once and they’ve been shutout three times — all losses. Last night’s loss is just the second time this year they’ve lost when they’ve scored three or more goals. For Darryl Sutter’s team, finding that mix of competent offense and defense is tricky.

Slumping to score when you have Anze Kopitar, Drew Doughty, Mike Richards, and Dustin Brown there to put pucks in the net makes it all the more frustrating for Sutter. Going up against a slumping Colorado Avalanche team should cure what ails them.

While the Avs were busy acquiring Steve Downie from Tampa Bay yesterday, they’re mired in a slump that’s seen them lose 8 of their last 11 games. Over that span neither Semyon Varlamov nor Jean-Sebastien Giguere have been particularly strong in goal but their offense has been off as well.

The Avs are led by a bevy of young talent like Ryan O’Reilly, Gabriel Landeskog and the recently returned from injury stud Matt Duchene. Paul Stastny has been all right this season as well as their veteran leader, but with youth comes inconsistency and with the Avalanche four points back of Los Angeles for eighth in the West, having those young guys jell on the fly could put the Avs in the postseason.

PHT Morning Skate: Shane Doan takes a (friendly) shot at the Miracle on Ice

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PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

Shane Doan took a friendly jab at the the movie “Miracle” and the Miracle on Ice. (BarDown)

–The best of the worst Upper Deck hockey cards from 2015-16. (Puck Junk)

–Here’s a list of the top 50 players in WHL history. (WHL)

–Watch the highlights of last night’s game between the Penguins and Capitals. (Top)

–A sad story about how Chris Phillips feels helpless as his hometown of Fort McMurray burns. (CBC)

–“You want to get back into things right away (but) I think these last four or five months have been good for me.” Former Penguins coach Mike Johnston is ready to coach again. (Local XPress)

–Blues forward Jori Lehtera is in a pretty random commercial:

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.