Jaroslav Halak

Blues’ Halak (groin) wants to return to practice Friday

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Hving missed the last four games and currently on injured reserve, Jaroslav Halak is anxious to get back into action.

And it might happen sooner rather than later.

Halak will reportedly try to return to practice on Friday, according to Jeremy Rutherford of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

The Slovak netminder was seen walking around the Blues’ locker room on Tuesday without any noticeable pain, which had to be a welcome sight for teammates and head coach Ken Hitchcock.

Halak, 27, was a big part of St. Louis’ 6-1-0 start to the year — he went 3-0-0 and recorded shutouts against the Red Wings and Predators.

But Halak tweaked his groin during last Friday’s game against Detroit and was forced out of action, eventually landing on IR.

In his place, the Blues turned to ordinarily trusty backup Brian Elliot, who has been anything but.

Elliott has a 3-3 record with a .874 save percentage and 2.95 GAA, and was yanked in Tuesday’s 6-1 loss to Nashville after allowing four goals on 11 shots.

To make matters worse, the hook forced 22-year-old AHL call-up Jake Allen into his NHL debut, and he responded with an equally shaky performance — two goals on eight shots in 31 minutes of action.

Hitchcock said he hasn’t been pleased with his team’s goaltending this year, but also warned that any turnaround won’t just rely on the guy between the pipes, and that any turnaround won’t be quick.

“It’s not going to happen overnight,” Hitchcock said. “We can play better in that position. We can defend better, too.”

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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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.