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Dogcat250  » 2019-03-15 03:13:29

Hsz.: 842

PITTSBURGH, Pa. - Dont worry, Kris Letang insists. The heat is coming. Sure, the Pittsburgh Penguins defenceman admits the New York Rangers dont invite quite the same animosity inside his teams locker room as the Philadelphia Flyers. The Rangers ended any shot of that tantalizing matchup when they beat the Flyers in seven games to set up a showdown with Pittsburgh in the Eastern Conference semifinals starting Friday. That doesnt mean Letang expects the next two weeks to be devoid of drama. Far from it. "Im pretty sure the intensity will get really high at one point when we start," Letang said. "The emotion is always going to be part of the game and were going to have to control it the best we can." Its an internal battle the Penguins won during a taut first-round series against Columbus. Expected to send the inexperienced Blue Jackets home without much effort, Pittsburgh needed six trying games to advance. The way the Penguins figure it, thats a good thing. Forced to respond to adversity, they played what coach Dan Bylsma called their best 120 minutes this season to avoid the upset. "We keep coming and we keep coming, playing forward and playing in the offensive zone and grinding teams down with that play with that speed and quickness," Bylsma said. "Games 5 and 6 were our best at playing that way." The Penguins will need to do it four more times if they want to advance to the Eastern Conference finals for the second straight year. They split their four regular-season meetings with New York, all of them coming before the Olympic break. The Rangers hardly look like the team that was still struggling to find an identity when they last faced Pittsburgh in early February. Pittsburgh is no longer the patched-together unit that cruised to the Metropolitan Division title despite having stars Letang, Evgeni Malkin, Paul Martin and James Neal miss large chunks of the season due to injury. The Penguins are healthy. New York is hot. Five things to look for heading into Game 1. SLUMPING STARS: Pittsburgh captain and likely NHL MVP Sidney Crosby hasnt scored a goal in his past 10 playoff games. New York forward Rick Nash has just one in 19 post-season contests wearing a Rangers sweater. Whichever streak ends first could swing the balance of the series. Crosby had six assists against the Blue Jackets, including one to Malkin in the first period of Game 6 in Columbus that gave the Penguins a 2-0 lead. Crosby knows he needs to take more chances. So does Nash, who can live with the drought as long as the Rangers keep it going. "Thats all that matters," Nash said. "Im going to try to keep getting my game going." LUNDQVIST VS. FLEURY: New Yorks Henrik Lundqvist and Pittsburghs Marc-Andre Fleury are the two winningest goaltenders in the regular season over the past five years, combining for 334 victories. Yet Lundqvist has yet to lift the Rangers past the conference finals while Fleury has struggled in the playoffs since helping the Penguins win the Stanley Cup in 2009. Both had their wayward moments in the first round. Both responded with brilliant play. Whoever gets hot — and stays hot — will give his team the upper hand. POWERLESS POWER PLAY: The Rangers went just 3 for 29 on the power play against Philadelphia, ending the series by failing to score 21 straight times with the man advantage. Not exactly the recipe to hang with the Penguins, who had the NHLs best power play during the regular season and was a solid 4 for 15 against the Blue Jackets while adding a pair of short-handed goals in the process. GENOS BACK: Like Crosby, Malkin was in the midst of a lengthy goal drought before coming up with his second career playoff hat trick in the clincher against the Blue Jackets. The rust that came with missing the final three weeks of the regular season appeared to vanish as he lit up Columbus goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky in Game 6. Playing alongside Crosby at times to try to shake loose the cobwebs, Malkin got hot. Expect to see the two MVPs on the ice frequently against New York. NEW YORK MINUTE: Game 1 marks the middle of a busy stretch in which the Rangers will play five times in seven days. Thats fine by them considering it beats the alternative of watching from home. "Now were in the middle of it and were in the battle," New York forward Brad Richards said. "This is when it gets real fun." ___ AP Sports Writer Ira Podell in New York contributed to this report. Frank Mason Jersey . -- Dee Ford prefers to keep things simple: Play hard and fast, and let others worry about his NFL draft stock. Cheap Kings Jerseys Authentic . The punch happened in the fourth quarter of Milwaukees 116-102 loss to the Kings on Wednesday when the two players became entangled while battling for rebounding position. Hamilton signed offensive linemen Mike Filer, Joel Reinders, Landon Rice and Carson Rockhill. DeMarcus Cousins Jersey . In the days leading up to the draft, and TSN Radio basketball analyst Duane Watson looks at some of the names that will be headlining the event. Tonight, Michigans Nik Stauskas of Mississauga, Ontario. Jack Cooley Jersey . That was OK with him. He was just happy his team came away with two points. Letestu redirected Jack Johnsons shot from the point with 2:38 left, lifting the Blue Jackets past the Tampa Bay Lightning 3-2 on Monday night.WASHINGTON -- Denard Span was in the middle of discussing his 26-game hitting streak when cheers, claps and whoops erupted from out-of-sight sections of the Washington Nationals clubhouse. "I think Gomez must have robbed a homer," Span said. "OK, thats good for us." That would be Milwaukee Brewers centre fielder Carlos Gomez, who kept Jay Bruces drive in the park in the ninth inning of a tied game against the Cincinnati Reds. The Brewers went on win, a result that combined with the Nationals 11-2 rout of the Philadelphia Phillies on Sunday to trim Washingtons deficit to 4 1/2 games for the NLs second wild-card berth. Jordan Zimmerman (18-8) scattered two runs and seven hits in seven innings for his NL-best 18th win, and Wilson Ramos had four hits and five RBIs on the day he became the 2013 version of the iron man catcher. The Nationals have won eight of nine and 25 of 35. "Id trade all those wins," Zimmermann said, "for a shot in the playoffs." Put Ramos near the top of the list of reasons for the Nationals late surge. He started his 23rd consecutive game, passing St. Louis Yadier Molina for most starts in a row behind the plate in the majors this year. He tied career highs for hits and RBIs, and he has 49 RBIs in 54 games since coming off the disabled list. "Hes been hitting the heck out of the ball, catching good, throwing people out. Hes hard to take out of the lineup," Johnson said. "Weve missed him for two years, so were going to ride him." Ramos tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee last year and was hindered this season by a bothersome right hamstring. Hes been close to being tagged with an injury-prone label, so his recent streak has answered at least a few of the questions about his durability. "That was very important for me," said Ramos, who has 14 homers and 50 RBIs in only 67 games. "Thats a good test for my knee, for myself, to show everybody that I can play every day." The Nationals other noteworthy games-in-a-row watch continued when Span singled up the middle in the third, putting him one shy of Colorados Michael Cuddyer for longest hitting streak in the majors this season. Washington took the lead forr good with three runs in the fourth off Tyler Cloyd (2-5), starting with back-to-back doubles by Bryce Harper and Ian Desmond.dddddddddddd. Harper added his third outfield assist in the three-game series when he caught Darin Ruf trying to stretch a single off the left-field wall into a double in the sixth. Washington added five runs in the seventh off Joe Savery and Mauricio Robles. The Nationals recent run has come in a soft part of the schedule. Next comes at three-game series against the Atlanta Braves, who have a chance to clinch the NL East at Washingtons ballpark. "We dont want that," Johnson said. The Nationals are 4-12 against the Braves this season. "We need to at least send a message these next three days that were better than them," the manager said. The Nationals long day came at the expense of Cloyd, who allowed five runs and 10 hits. "He has to be real good with his command, and it seemed like today as the game got into the fourth it looked like balls started to be elevated a little bit and caught a lot of the plate," Philadelphia manager Ryne Sandberg said. "And against that lineup, and the way theyre swinging the bat, its a tough combination." NOTES: Every player in the Nationals starting lineup had at least one hit. ... Washington went 9 for 13 with runners in scoring position; the Nationals began the day with a .239 RISP average, 25th in the major leaguers. ... Phillies LF Domonic Brown, returning from a right Achilles tendon injury, doubled and scored in the second inning in his first start since Aug. 30. He came off the bench Friday and Saturday. ... The Nationals 18 hits tied their season high. ... The Phillies have not won a series on the road since the All-Star break. ... A pigeon wandered near the pitchers mound, shortstop and second base for several innings. During warmups at the start of the eighth, the bird had a staredown with first base umpire Jim Wolf on the edge of the outfield grass. The crowd cheered whenever the pigeon attempted to fly, but the bird appeared to be injured and couldnt stay airborne for more than a few yards. "You could walk right up to him, and he wouldnt budge," Nationals 2B Steve Lombardozzi said. ' ' '