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    5. The battle between Malkin and Kucherov almost ended in tragedy. ..

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    The battle between Malkin and Kucherov almost ended in tragedy. Creepy footage from the USA

    The regular season of the National Hockey League (NHL) is coming to an end, and there is not much intrigue left in it. One of the main ones is kept in the Eastern Conference, where the last two spots in the playoffs are played out. The fight for these places is fierce. Several clubs have a chance to jump on board the Stanley Cup train, and with each match the position in the standings is constantly changing.
    The day before, the Philadelphia Flyers, Detroit Red Wings and Washington Capitals, some of the contenders for the coveted playoff tickets, stumbled at the same time. And it was a boon for the Pittsburgh Penguins, who later hosted the Tampa Bay Lightning, who were already guaranteed a spot in the Stanley Cup. Pittsburgh clearly understands the full extent of responsibility. This club does not want to spend a second season in a row without the playoffs at all. That is why, on the eve of the meeting with the Lightning, the Penguins had five wins in their last seven matches with two defeats in overtime and a shootout, respectively. Thanks to important points, Mike Sullivan's team moved within arm's reach of the playoff zone, although about a month ago it seemed something impossible and incredible.

    The Pens extended this same hand even further and beat Tampa! Right now, Pittsburgh is in the playoff zone, leaving behind Philadelphia, Detroit, Washington and, naturally, Buffalo and New Jersey, which are also too early to write off. The main characters of the club are familiar faces – those who are criticized an order of magnitude more often than others, those who wrote the modern history of the “penguins”. Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang.

    One of the authors of the victorious march in the match with the Lightning was Crosby. The 36-year-old Canadian is having a strong season, and in the last month he has put up amazing statistics that have North American journalists seriously speculating about his place among the candidates for the Hart Trophy. Sid completed a stunning attack from Erik Karlsson and Brian Rust early in the match. The Canadian had only to throw the puck into the empty net, which he did without any problems.

    Letang and Malkin continued the beautiful story. The experienced Canadian defender scored a goal, and the Russian super forward scored two goals and one assist. This evening was named after Gino! First, Evgeniy scored a double and created a seemingly comfortable advantage for Pittsburgh to win. His second goal led to the fact that Malkin’s parents, Vladimir Anatolyevich and Natalya Mikhailovna, who were present at the game, simply could not hold back their tears. They are so happy for the success of their son, who has won almost everything in his career.

    With the score 4:1 after two periods, in theory one could be sure that the victory would not go anywhere. But not in the case of “Pittsburgh” – Sullivan’s team has repeatedly been burned in similar situations this season and missed the desired result. Today the fiasco almost happened again. Nikita Kucherov, who continues to fight for the Art Ross Trophy, increased his lead in the season's scorers and scored an assist hat-trick. The Russian genius from Tampa is already six assists away from the historic hundred assists for the season. In total, he has 136 points (43+93). Chasing Nathan MacKinnon and Connor McDavid are 5 and 8 points behind, respectively.

    4:4 on the scoreboard – these numbers could have psychologically hit Pittsburgh. Not for the first time. But now the situation is different; the “penguins” have no time for decadent moods. Therefore, Malkin, recognized as the first star of the match, and Michael Bunting, at the end of the match, nevertheless organized the winning goal for the Pens.

    This amazing match could even be called ideal and one of the best of the entire season. But just one episode changed everything. In the third period, Tampa Bay defender Haydn Fleury crashed into referee Steve Kozari. The referee was not ready for this collision – he simply did not see the hockey player. Having fallen, Kozari hit his head on the ice and lost consciousness for some time. The match was interrupted and the referee was taken from the site on a stretcher. Fleury also suffered serious injuries: the Canadian suffered a cut and left the ice on his feet, but with great difficulty. The match was completed ahead of schedule for him.

    After the match, the NHL announced that Kozari was hospitalized, and also noted that he “is conscious and expects a full recovery.” Tampa head coach John Cooper did not give such information about Fleury: “This is one of those cases that was the result of a terrible accident. I hope everything will be okay with both victims.”

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