Daniel Alfredsson

Alfredsson, Lupul and Pacioretty are your Masterton finalists

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The Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy is awarded annually to “the National Hockey League player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey.”

This year, a trio of players from Canada’s Eastern Conference teams have been named finalists — Ottawa’s Daniel Alfredsson, Toronto’s Joffrey Lupul and Montreal’s Max Pacioretty.

Alfredsson

The 39-year-old returned for a 16th season with the Senators — the only team he’s ever played for — after offseason back surgery and a bleak outlook for 2011-12. Ottawa was coming off a 13th-place finish with a new head coach and one of the NHL’s youngest lineups, but rallied to finish eighth in the East on the strength of Alfie’s play. He had 27G-32A-56PTS, a plus-16 rating and was named a captain at the 2012 All-Star Game.

Lupul

Much like Alfredsson, he recovered from a back injury to put forth an All-Star performance.

From NHL.com:

Leafs coach Randy Carlyle, who held the same role in Anaheim when Lupul initially injured his back in 2009, said he’s amazed Lupul accomplished what he did this season.

“He was hunched over, he couldn’t stand upright,” Carlyle told the Toronto Sun. “He had a hard time just moving. And he dropped about 20 pounds.”

Lupul said that number was closer to 40.

The 28-year-old finished the year with 25 goals and a career-best 67 points, despite playing just 66 games.

Pacioretty

His comeback might be the most impressive of all. Pacioretty recovered from a fractured vertebrae and concussion in Mar. 2011 — after the infamous Zdeno Chara hit — to score 33 goals and 65 points, becoming the first American player in Canadiens history to score 30 times.

“Everybody knew from the get-go that this guy [Pacioretty] was special,” Habs center David Desharnais told the Montreal Gazette. “He has a good shot, he’s a good skater who has good ability. He’s just proved this season that he’s one of the best.

“To overcome a broken neck the way he has is unbelievable.”

PHT Related

Poll: Who will win the 2012 Masterton Trophy?

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.