Top Line: Pens look unstoppable; Toews, Kopitar must step up; more links

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Sidney Crosby and his merry Penguins are rolling home in the proverbial driver's seat. (NHLI via Getty Images)

Sidney Crosby and the Penguins look unstoppable in the 2013 NHL playoffs.

ByAllan Muir

An annotated guide to this morning's must-read hockey stories:

• After an atrocious first period, the Pittsburgh Penguins finally decided to unsheathe their claws. About time, too, according to Dejan Kovacevic.

James Neal and Jarome Iginlafound their inner beasts, scoring a pair of goals each in Pittsburgh's win.

• Daniel Alfredsson and the Ottawa Senators were hit hard by the reality of their situation after that 7-3 blowout. Reality or not, it's stunning to hear these words coming from the captain.

• After watching everything fall apart so abruptly after a promising start, Eric Duhatschek wonders if the Senators have checked out of the series.

• The Senators now face the ultimate challenge. The view from Ottawa suggests they're not quite up to it.

Anze Kopitar has been limited to just one assist through the first four games of the Kings' series against the Sharks. Here's why.

• "What kind of bugs me about him, I don't know if I should say it, but a little embellishment every now and then," Sharks winger T.J. Galiardi said of this Kings star.

• Darryl Sutter rearranged his lines at practice in an effort to jump-start the Kings' moribund offense. Kyle Clifford earned a promotion to the top line as part of the shakeup. Because, well, obviously, right?

• Can the Red Wings maintain their composure and put the frustrated Blackhawks on the ropes? Goaltender Jimmy Howard may hold the key to Detroit's chances.

• Every game has been huge for Detroit during the past few weeks, but Mitch Albom says this one is about standing up to the Hawks and holding the ground that the Red Wings have earned. So, you know, it's really huge.

Jonathan Toews won't allow his eight-game playoff goal-scoring drought to have an impact on the rest of his game. He's avoided criticism so far because of all that he does, but if he puts up another donut and the Hawks go down 3-1, he might want to keep his head low.

• Chicago coach Joel Quenneville shuffled his power play to create more net-front traffic in Game 4.

Andrew Shawcrossed the line in Game 3. The gritty winger has to keep his cool while remaining involved physically for the Hawks to even up this set.

Tuukka Rask has been Tim Thomas-good so far in the playoffs. Probably won't hurt his bargaining position as a restricted free agent this summer, will it?

• The Rangers are done...the only question is when will the Bruins finish them off?

• New York is likely to be without one key defenseman for Game 4, but another one might draw back in to replace him.

• Forget about going out quietly, writes Larry Brooks. Win or lose, the Rangers need to give the Bruinssomething to think about in Game 4.

• Mark Spector asks the obvious question after Canucks GM Mike Gillis fired coach Alain Vigneault: if this is a results-oriented business, why were the coaches the only ones fired?

• You have to see what's left of the car after Philadelphia forward Jakob Voracek survived a terrifying crash. For the record, that's a Ferrari California Hardtop, valued at nearly $200,000. Ouch.

• A vicious head shot delivered by Montreal prospect Dalton Thrower marred the final round-robin game of the Memorial Cup. Seth Jones and Portland emerged with the win, earning the Winterhawks a slot in Thursday's semifinal.

The Occults