NBCSN continues its coverage of the 2013-14 campaign tonight when the Buffalo Sabres host the Washington Capitals at First Niagara Center at 7:30 p.m. ET. In addition to NBCSN, you can also watch the game online.
Things haven’t been great for either the Washington Capitals or the Buffalo Sabres of late.
We saw the Sabres get shut out on the road 3-0 by the Pittsburgh Penguins last night on NBCSN. Ryan Miller did everything he could while Marc-Andre Fleury stoned them. The loss was their sixth in the past seven games. If there’s a silver lining here for Buffalo it comes in the form of the Capitals.
The Caps enter tonight’s tilt losers of seven of the past eight games and 11 of the past 14. Washington’s 5-0 win against Montreal on Saturday night stopped what was a seven-game losing streak and was able to get some positive mojo working for them.
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The wild thing for the Caps? Despite all of the losses, they’re still just three points out of the final wild card spot in the East playoff race. The struggles of the Eastern Conference on the whole are helping keep the Caps (and just about everyone else) in the hunt.
The Caps will have to try to keep the wins coming without Mikhail Grabovski who is out with a lower-body injury. Alex Ovechkin returned against Montreal after missing time with a groin injury and had an immediate impact with a goal and an assist. They’ll also likely catch a break not having to face Miller as he played last night.
Miller earned two shootout wins against the Caps already this season stopping 77 of 79 shots and nine out of nine in the shootout in those two games. Instead, they’ll likely face Jhonas Enroth who has had a strong season as well in spite of his 1-10-4 record. The Capitals will counter with either Braden Holtby or Michal Neuvirth in goal to stop a Sabres offense that’s last in the league.
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 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.