The Chicago Blackhawks, defending Stanley Cup champions, have found themselves in a series with the Minnesota Wild. It didn’t look like that would be the case a few days ago.
The Wild, down 2-0 early on in this series, have won the last two games. That includes a 4-2 victory over the Blackhawks in Game 4 on Friday. The series now shifts back to Chicago, all tied.
“This series is long from over, so that’s the good news. We’ve got a chance to redeem ourselves and be better than we have been,” said Blackhawks’ captain Jonathan Toews afterward, as per Mark Lazerus of the Chicago Sun-Times.
Toews added: “It’s playoff hockey. It’s not supposed to be easy. There’s going to be some moments where your stomach drops.”
The Blackhawks were shut out in the third game, and kept to just two goals – Ilya Bryzgalov was sensational for Minnesota after allowing a weak goal to Patrick Sharp – in the fourth game. (Just check out this save late in the third period.)
Chicago might have the advantage in this series on paper when it comes to talent. But the Wild have been able to keep the Blackhawks’ skilled players in check, for the most part, in the past two games.
On Friday, Chicago had just 20 shots on Bryzgalov in the entire game.
“We can look in the mirror and know we can do a better job of getting to their net and creating scoring chances,” said Sharp, as per Chris Kuc of the Chicago Tribune.
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.