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CRANBERRY TOWNSHIP Patrice Bergeron Jersey , Pa. (AP) Sidney Crosby has faced the Washington Capitals three times in the playoffs. All three times the Pittsburgh captain has led his team to victory. And all three times the Penguins used the win as the springboard to a raucous mid-June parade with the Stanley Cup in tow.Still, Crosby sounded like a cautious investor on Tuesday when asked if Pittsburgh has a mental advantage over rival Alexander Ovechkin and the Capitals heading into yet another postseason showdown in the Eastern Conference semifinals starting later this week.Past performance, the two-time MVP stressed, does not guarantee future results.”I think it depends on what you do in the series and how you play,” Crosby said. ”I don’t think it plays a huge role. I guess to answer your question, no.”A mantra Crosby’s teammates repeated over and over they prepared for yet another showdown in a rivalry that somehow manages to be both compelling and one-sided. Pittsburgh is 9-1 all-time in the postseason against Washington regardless of who is in the black-and-gold sweaters and who is in red, white and blue.Not that Ovechkin is intimidated. The Capitals star said he “can’t wait” to get another shot at the Penguins after spearheading Washington’s first-round win over Columbus in six games. That’s fine by Pittsburgh, which has played Lucy to Washington’s Charlie Brown for more than a quarter century, dangling a potentially deep playoff run in front of the Capitals only to pull it back at the last minute.The Penguins, however, remain wary. Just because they always beat Washington doesn’t mean they’re going to always beat Washington. The teams split their four meetings during the regular season, with the Capitals wrapping up their third straight Metropolitan Division title with a 3-1 win in Pittsburgh on April Fool’s Day.Of course Matt Read Jersey Womens , none of it matters once the puck drops in Game 1.”It’s a new year,” Pittsburgh defenseman Kris Letang said. ”The series is going to play out differently. The game is going to be won differently. You don’t know how it is going to go. The only thing I know is it’s a good rivalry, two really good teams, two teams that have a lot of punch offensively. It’s going to be fun to be a part of.”Particularly for Letang. He missed all of Pittsburgh’s run to a second straight Stanley Cup last spring while recovering from neck surgery, though he was able to make his way to the arena for Game 7 of the conference semifinals, when Marc-Andre Fleury stopped all 29 shots he faced and the Penguins escaped with a 2-0 victory to finish a series in which both teams scored 20 goals and won on opposing ice at least twice.Though there are a handful of new faces on both sides, the principals remain the same. Ovechkin and Crosby. Evgeni Malkin and Nicklas Backstrom. Letang and Braden Holtby. Two weeks of taut, tense hockey in the offing.”I think it’s the same old dangerous team,” Letang said. ”Like, don’t get me wrong, those series went the distance, they went to overtime. It was a tough matchup that could have gone either way. They cause the same problems to our team. They cause problems on the power play. They have a lot of skill. They make a lot of plays.”Yet the Penguins have always found a way to make at least one more Matt Hendricks Jersey Womens , though they may be at less than 100 percent when things get going. Malkin and forward Carl Hagelin both missed practice on Tuesday. Malkin is dealing with a lower-body injury while Hagelin has an upper-body issue after colliding with Philadelphia’s Claude Giroux in Pittsburgh’s clinching victory over the Flyers in Game 6.That could provide more playing time for players like Riley Sheahan – who filled in capably on the second line for Malkin in Game 6 – and rookie Zach Aston-Reese. The 23-year-old was in high school the first time Crosby and Ovechkin met in the playoffs in 2009 – when the Penguins blitzed the Capitals in Game 7 of the conference semifinals on their way to the Cup.This time, Aston-Reese’s view will be markedly different. He noticed an uptick in intensity from the regular season when the Penguins fended off the Flyers. Now, the dial goes up to 11 and stays there.”I expect every game to be almost like a Game 7,” Aston-Reese said.That’s because it almost always is.— NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — Less than a month into the season, it looks like the New Jersey Devils are ready to take the next step after making the playoffs for the first time since reaching the Stanley Cup Final in 2012.John Hynes’ club opened the season with four straight wins and it has taken 11 of a possible 18 points in the first nine games (5-3-1).Kyle Palmieri is among the league leaders with nine goals. Ditto Hart Trophy winner Taylor Hall with 10 assists, including eight on the power play. The line of Palmieri, 2017 No. 1 overall draft pick Nico Hischier and Hall has combined for 34 points, while goaltender Keith Kinkaid has two shutouts and a 2.74 goals-against average in starting every game.Everything is looking good for a team that didn’t make many changes in the offseason after being eliminated in the first round by the Tampa Bay Lightning.Or is it?The Devils’ success this season has been a combination of good play and a friendly schedule, which started in Sweden. Six of the last seven games have been played at home, including two where their opponent played the night before.Now things get tough. New Jersey embarked on a seven-game road trip that started with an 8-3 loss in Tampa on Tuesday and will end on Nov. 11 at Winnipeg. The Devils won’t be on the road the whole time. One game is in New York City against the Islanders.“I think it’s definitely going to test us,” said Kinkaid Womens Torey Krug Jersey , who should start getting a few days off with Cory Schneider off injured reserve. “I don’t think I’ve ever done anything like this. It’s going to really test our team and see what we’re made of. We can’t dwell on the games that we let slip away.”After playing a tenacious style in winning the first four games, the Devils were beaten by Philadelphia and Colorado on late third-period goals. They gave up a late third-period goal and lost to Nashville in overtime and then edged Florida 3-2 after nearly blowing a 3-0 lead.“The last two games before Florida, I don’t think we played like what’s expected of us, but we bounced back and played the type of game we want to play,” captain Andy Greene said Monday. “I don’t think we’re going to sneak up on teams like we did last year. We can’t sit around and rest on what we did last year. It’s a new group and a new dynamic. It’s up to us to step forward. We’ve only played eight games, so it’s hard to tell where we’re at. This league has a way of humbling you quick.”Like old times, the Devils had been stingy on defense, until facing the Lightning. However, they need more from the second, third and fourth lines. The Hischier line has carried the load and the only other line making a big contribution is the checking unit. Blake Coleman and Brian Boyle have three goals apiece.“”I don’t think we’re concerned on who predicted us to do whatever,” Boyle said. “Last year, we were in a playoff spot from the beginning of the season and we just stayed there. But last year is over. It was important to get off to a good start again this year and we can do what we did last year and stay in the playoff spot all season long.”Hynes wants more consistency.“We have to focus on finding an identity and building on that Tuukka Rask Jersey ,” said the fourth-year head coach. “I think we have a group of guys who come play every night. We had a little bit of a slip, but we found a way to get back to what we do best. That’s our recipe for success, playing hard and getting after it.”GAME OF THE WEEKNashville at Tampa Bay, Thursday night. Both teams are off to good starts and there is a chance of a top goaltending matchup with Pekka Rinne of the Predators and Andrei Vasilevskiy of the Lightning.LEADERS (through Tuesday)Goals: Patrick Kane (Chicago) and David Pastrnak (Boston), 11; Assists: Mikko Rantanen (Colorado), 16; Points: Mikko Rantanen (Colorado), 21; Wins: Andrei Vasilevskiy (Tampa Bay), 6; Goals-against average: Jaroslav Halak, 1.51; Save percentage: Semyon Varlamov (Colorado), .950.