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. - 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. Greg Toler Womens Jersey
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. - Gaston Fernandez is making the most of his new job with the Portland Timbers.(SportsNetwork.com) - The red-hot Los Angeles Kings take aim at an eighth straight victory on Monday night as they wrap up a road trip versus the Calgary Flames. Calgary will be seeking to rebound tonight after dropping a 2-1 decision to the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday. Rookie Joni Ortio made 12 saves for a Flames club that had won two straight and three of its previous four. However, Calgary went 0-for-5 on the power play and its only goal came when Brian McGrattan scored on a slap shot from center ice that skipped past Vancouver goaltender Eddie Lack. The odd tally was the second for McGrattan this season and eighth of his career. "(I) just wanted to throw one on net," said McGrattan. "I was at the end of my shift, and fortunately it went in." Forward Jiri Hudler and defenseman Dennis Wideman sat out their second straight games for Calgary with upper-body injuries, while forward Matt Stajan missed his fourth consecutive contest for personal reasons. The Flames announced on Sunday that Stajan has taken a leave from the club following the tragic passing of his son Emerson on March 3 following childbirth. There is no timetable for Stajans return. Ortio is in line to make his fifth career start tonight and second versus the Kings. He lost to them in his NHL debut on Feb. Erik Walden Colts Jersey
. 27, stopping 22-of-24 shots faced in a 2-0 setback. Calgary has won a pair of games in Los Angeles in this season prior to that recent setback at home to the Kings, who have won five of the previous seven encounters overall. Los Angeles also has won five in a row in Calgary. The Kings have won seven in a row for the first time since a nine-game winning streak from Jan. 21-Feb. 6, 2010, taking all six games since returning from the hiatus for the 2014 Winter Olympics. Los Angeles current tear has it sitting comfortably in third place in the Pacific Division, 11 points up on the fourth-place Phoenix Coyotes. The Kings played the middle contest of a three-game swing on Sunday night, besting the Edmonton Oilers 4-2. Jeff Carter had a pair of goals and an assist, while Jonathan Quick made 25 saves. Alec Martinez and Trevor Lewis also scored. "Weve been playing a good team game," said Martinez, who has three goals and an assist in his past four games. Quick has won each of his previous six starts, posting a 0.99 goals against average, .957 save percentage and one shutout. However, he could get some rest tonight in favor of backup Martin Jones, who has never faced the Flames. wholesale jerseys
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