2014 NHL Stanley Cup Final - Game Three

Vigneault: ‘Thank God for soft ice’

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After Game 3, New York Rangers coach Alain Vigneault was downright glum about his team’s perceived bad “puck luck.” The coin tosses seemed to flip dramatically in favor of his team in Game 4, however, so it’s no surprise that Vigneault was in a good mood on Wednesday night.

In assessing the Los Angeles Kings’ two chances in which pucks stopped within a breath of crossing the Rangers’ goal line, Vigneault provided a classic assessment:

“I knew it wasn’t in because the light wasn’t going on,” Vigneault said. I didn’t know exactly where it was. I was able to see the replay after.”

“Thank God for soft ice now and then.”

That’s downright verbose compared to Vigneault’s take on the Rangers’ play in Game 3: “Couldn’t score.”

Naturally, he also thanked his lucky stars/deities for a masterful performance from Henrik Lundqvist.

“He had to make some huge saves in the second and the third,” Vigneault said. “He got and we got a few bounces. You need those. Maybe the luck is changing a little bit.”

Of course, Kings fans would probably snicker at the “little bit” part. Beyond some prime scoring chances that hit a post or missed the net entirely, those “soft ice” moments were crucial to New York’s survival. It’s almost impossible to deny the “luck changing” narrative when you consider these moments:

There certainly was a lot of “snow” in the crease late in the third period:

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It was fairly slushy there when Anton Stralman saved a goal, too:

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The Rangers managed to extend this series to Game 5 despite the Kings generated a 15-1 shot advantage in the third period. One cannot help but feel that luck can only take them so far if they perform this way again.

Regardless, the Rangers aren’t complaining tonight.

“I’ve been in the game a long time to know that sometimes the hockey gods are there. They were there tonight,” Vigneault said.

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.