Corey Crawford, Jeff Carter

Kings put Blackhawks on brink of elimination with Game 4 victory

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The L.A. Kings are one win away from making it back to the Stanley Cup Final for the second time in three years. Meanwhile, the defending champs, the Chicago Blackhawks, are on the verge of elimination.

The Kings, champions two years ago, got off to a roaring start in a pivotal Game 4 Monday, stunning the Blackhawks by opening up a three-goal lead in the first period, before adding to that in the second period, before finally taking this one by a final of 5-2. The Kings now lead the best-of-seven Western Conference Final 3-1.

For the Blackhawks, it was a disastrous start. They were given two chances on the power play before the game was even 10 minutes old, but their second advantage was wiped out when Marian Hossa was involved in a crease collision with Kings’ goalie Jonathan Quick and called for goalie interference.

One play early in a game. True. But L.A. eventually got the power play and made Chicago pay, when Jake Muzzin beat Corey Crawford with a perfect wrist shot. Difficult for the Blackhawks goalie to make any kind of save with Jeff Carter standing right in front of the net.

The Blachawks did make things interesting, after it earlier appeared like they would get run out of the building by the host Kings.

Brandon Saad got Chicago on the board with a beautiful backhand shot in the second period, and Bryan Bickell cut the deficit to two goals before the midway point of the third.

They wouldn’t get any closer. That’s not three straight losses in these playoffs for Chicago. Their top players struggled throughout Monday’s game, with L.A. capitalizing in the first period on turnovers from Jonathan Toews and Duncan Keith.

Patrick Kane, who didn’t have a point in this series through the first three games, added an assist on the Bickell goal, but he hasn’t scored in the last four games.

The series shifts back to Chicago, and the Kings have a chance to eliminate the Blackhawks.

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.