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Capitals take over Southeast Division lead

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The Washington Capitals couldn’t ask for things to go much better than they did on Thursday, taking over the Southeast Division lead thanks to tonight’s events. Here’s a rundown of the ground they gained against the Winnipeg Jets and the Eastern Conference’s bubble teams to boot.

Washington 2, NY Islanders 1 (SO)

Braden Holtby stopped 35 out of 36 shots, Mike Green kept his four-game goal streak going and Alex Ovechkin scored the lone shootout tally to give Washington a close win against fellow playoff contenders the New York Islanders. With that charity point, the New York Rangers’ inactivity and other teams’ losses, the Isles moved up to seventh in the East.

(In case you’re wondering, Martin Erat was a non-factor in less than 15 minutes of ice time, so maybe that’s lone downer.)

Boston 1, New Jersey 0

Jaromir Jagr’s lucky first goal as a member of the Boston Bruins ended up being the game-winner as Tuukka Rask tormented the New Jersey Devils with a 40-save performance. At least for one night, the Devils remain out of the top eight (now No. 9) in the East.

Montreal 4, Winnipeg 1

Like the Devils, the Winnipeg Jets lost their fifth game in a row to drop out of the top eight tonight. Michael Ryder was the player who bedeviled Winnipeg the most, scoring two goals and an assist. Another strong goalie performance was a factor, too, as Peter Budaj stopped all but one of the 34 pucks that came his way.

Philadelphia 5, Toronto 3

Perhaps this represents the only less-than-ideal outcome for the Capitals, although that’s probably grasping at straws when you look at the night as a whole.

Thanks to tonight’s activity, the Capitals now have a 46 percent chance to win the Southeast compared to dual 24 percent odds for Winnipeg and the Tampa Bay Lightning (who beat the Carolina Hurricanes 5-0 tonight), according to Sports Club Stats.

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.