Granted, there wasn’t much doubt after the Chicago Blackhawks got off to a 21-0-3 start this season, but now we know for sure: The Blackhawks will participate in the 2013 NHL Playoffs.
They became the first team in the NHL to earn that distinction on Sunday when they secured a 5-3 win against the Nashville Predators.
For a brief time though, it looked like the Blackhawks would have to wait at least a little longer to clinch.
Predators forward David Legwand netted his 11th goal of the season at 6:54 of the third period to give his team a 3-2 lead. However, the Blackhawks were only down for 2:43 minutes before 20-year-old rookie Brandon Saad found the back of the net for Chicago.
Then, appropriately, Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews buried the game winner 55 seconds later.
Chicago is now 29-5-4 this season and don’t have much left to play for. They’ve all but won the first seed in the Western Conference, so the biggest question left is if they’ll get the Presidents’ Trophy.
All the same, the Blackhawks will want to avoid becoming complacent. They still have 10 games and about three weeks left before their season is over and they won’t want to lose any momentum in that time.
Update: The New Jersey Devils lost to the Buffalo Sabres on Sunday, which means the idle Pittsburgh Penguins are the second team to secure their playoff spot.
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.
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.
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.
Matt Murray was just on another level in Game 3, giving the impression that the Washington Capitals would only beat him with perfect shots.
Jay Beagle got that memo … and maybe added a little element of surprise on top of that.
As you can see from the video above, Beagle beat Murray from an unexpected angle with a pretty resounding goal. It was one of those “Wait, did that just happen?”-type moments.
The Capitals saw their lead go away moments before this post was completed, so it’s now 1-1.