Ratings strong for opening night of 2014 Stanley Cup playoffs

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The first night of the 2014 Stanley Cup playoffs featured plenty of action – and a surprising amount of scoring – and it appears that audiences took notice. Generally speaking, ratings were up based on a wide variety of criteria, including a new high mark or two.

For one thing, the first night of action on NBCSN and CNBC was up 53 percent from last year. CNBC saw its best opening night of action, besting its previous high by a whopping 153 percent.

Here’s the full slate of ratings information from NBC:

  • Opening night of the 2014 NHL Playoffs averaged 472,000 viewers across the three games on NBCSN/CNBC (+53% from opening night in 2013), 305,000 P18-49 (+53%).
  • NBCSN’s two games averaged 486,000 viewers (+22% from the comparable coverage in 2013; 397,000), 289,000 P18-49 (+14%) and 260,000 P25-54 (+21%).
  • In its third year of NHL coverage, CNBC posted its best audience for a playoff opening night with 450,000 average viewers (+34% from the previous high in 2012), 329,000 P18-49 (+103%).
  • The combined NHL audience across NBCSN and CNBC from 7:30P-10:30P ranked #1 in cable for the time period among Men 18-49 (524,000).
  • Last night’s Columbus-Pittsburgh first-round game on NBCSN averaged 584,000 viewers, up 39% from NBCSN’s early game on opening night of the playoffs last year (Minnesota-Chicago)
  •  Last night’s Dallas-Anaheim first-round game on NBCSN averaged 390,000 viewers, up 12% from NBCSN’s late game on opening night of the playoffs last year (Detroit-Anaheim)
  •  Last night’s Montreal-Tampa Bay first-round game on CNBC averaged 450,000 viewers, making it the most-watched game for a Stanley Cup Playoffs opening night on CNBC, up 153% from CNBC’s early game on opening night of the playoffs last year (Los Angeles-St. Louis)

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.