Henrik Zetterberg

NHL on NBCSN: Kings, Red Wings fight to stay hot

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NBCSN’s ongoing coverage of the 2013 campaign will continue tonight when the Los Angeles Kings host the Detroit Red Wings at the Staples Center at 10:00 p.m. ET.

At first glance, the Los Angeles Kings might look like underperformers, but that’s not entirely fair.

They endured one of the roughest schedules for the first month of play. Only four of their first 17 games were at home and under those harsh circumstances, almost any team would have had trouble doing more than treading water.

That stretch is over now and the question is how they will hold up in the Staples Center. They have already comfortably beat the Colorado Avalanche and Anaheim Ducks, but sweeping this three-game home set with a win tonight will be a challenge.

Injuries have worn down the Detroit Red Wings this season more than almost any other team. At the same time, they’ve shaken off their recent struggles with commanding victories over the Nashville Predators and Vancouver Canucks.

On top of that, Detroit should get Johan Franzen (hip flexor) back for this contest, according to the Detroit Free Press.

They have looked like a vulnerable team for much of the season without retired future Hall of Famer Nicklas Lidstrom. Still, they’ve proven that – at least on some nights – they’re still the same dangerous Red Wings that have commanded the respect of their opponents for decades.

Probable goaltenders: DET- Jimmy Howard (8-6-2, 2.88 GAA, .901 SV%) | LAK – Jonathan Quick (6-5-2, 2.42 GAA, .906 SV%)

Top scorers: DET – Henrik Zetterberg (6-19-25, 19 GP) | LAK – Anze Kopitar (5-10-15, 16 GP)

Notable Injuries:
Detroit – Forwards: Valtteri Filppula (shoulder), Mikael Samuelsson (finger), Todd Bertuzzi (back), Darren Helm (back) Defensemen: Kyle Quincey (ankle), Carlo Colaiacovo (shoulder), Brendan Smith (shoulder) Goaltenders: Jonas Gustavsson (groin)
Los Angeles – Defensemen: Alec Martinez (upper body), Willie Mitchell (knee), Matt Greene (back)

Related:

Rivalry Night on NBCSN: Reacquired Gagne looks to lead Flyers past Capitals

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.