Dany Heatley, Semyon Varlamov

Wild, Avs go back-to-back starting tonight

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The Wild and Avalanche both have 34 points. Tonight, after they meet in Minnesota, that tie in the standings will be broken. But tomorrow, after they play in Colorado, they could be tied again. Or, one team could be four points up on the other. Or, one team could be three points up on the other. Sorry, pulling a bit of a rambling Darryl Sutter here. Here’s what both teams have been up to:

The Wild (15-7-4) have lost two straight, 3-0 at St. Louis and 3-1 to Phoenix. So yeah, scoring goals has been an issue of late. On the bright side, Minnesota could have Zach Parise (foot) back in the lineup tonight, which would help. Parise practiced yesterday on the first line with Mikko Koivu and Charlie Coyle, but we’ll have to wait until later in the day to find out if he’s in for sure. One forward who definitely won’t be in the lineup is Mikael Granlund, who’s out at least a week with an upper-body injury.

The Avs (17-6-0) are a modest 5-5-0 in their last 10. They did, however, earn consecutive victories over Chicago, Phoenix and Los Angeles before losing to St. Louis on Wednesday. Patrick Roy’s troops still have a lot to prove, but they haven’t completely fallen apart like some were expecting them to. The high number of shots they allow (an average of 32.0, the seventh most in the NHL) will only be an issue if their goalie tandem of Semyon Varlamov and Jean-Sebastien Giguere can’t maintain their high level of play.

With 34 points each, both teams are three points clear of ninth-place Vancouver in the Western Conference standings. But both have to be cognizant that the Canucks, despite a 3-4-3 record in their last 10, have in fact been playing quite well. The race for the playoffs is going to be a fascinating one in the West.

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
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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.

Video: Beagle’s perfect shot dogs Murray for early Caps lead

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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.

WATCH LIVE: Washington Capitals at Pittsburgh Penguins – Game 4

Washington Capitals T.J. Oshie (77) tries to slide the puck past Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Matt Murray (30) during the third period of Game 3 in an NHL hockey Stanley Cup Eastern Conference semifinals in Pittsburgh, Monday, May 2, 2016. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
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The Pittsburgh Penguins won Game 3 thanks to Matt Murray‘s heroics, but now they must face the Washington Capitals without Kris Letang in Game 4.

(And the Penguins were overwhelmed for much of that last contest with their best blueliner.)

The Capitals, meanwhile, acknowledge the baggage – perceived or not – of the past as they try to tie this series.

It should be a fascinating Game 4, and you can soak in all the drama and action on NBCSN and also stream it via the link below.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE

To be young: Coyotes to hire 26-year-old as GM, give Tippett more say

Arizona Coyotes head coach Dave Tippett watches his team play the Detroit Red Wings during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Detroit, Thursday, Dec. 3, 2015.  (AP Photo/Jose Juarez)
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It sounds like the Arizona Coyotes’ youth movement won’t merely be seen on the ice.

ESPN’s Craig Custance reports that the Coyotes will promote 26-year-old assistant GM John Chayka to GM. The team teased a major press conference for Thursday, when that news is likely to be made official.

The presser could be useful for more than the usual quotes and mission statements, as the Coyotes seem like they may parallel the Toronto Maple Leafs in combining an experienced executive, a young up-and-coming thinker and a more empowered head coach.

Dave Tippett is expected to have more of a say in personnel decisions while the Coyotes hope to bring in a Lou Lamoriello-type to assist Chayka, according to Custance.

(Custance’s ESPN Insider article [subscription required] goes in much greater depth, including a comparison to the NBA’s Golden State Warriors rather than the Maple Leafs.)

It’s possible that Dallas Stars assistant GM Les Jackson might come in to help Chayka, although an earlier report suggests that Jackson might stay in Dallas.

Multiple reporters including Puck Daddy’s Josh Cooper back up Custance’s report.

Considering Chayka’s age – he’s primed to become the youngest GM in NHL history – it’s no surprise that people are churning out jokes.

(This post’s author comes with six more years of [life] experience and a resume stacked with impressive video game and fantasy hockey team-building, by the way.)