PITTSBURGH (AP) The chase began nearly a year ago Adidas Xavier Ouellet Jersey
, when Pittsburgh Penguins coach Mike Sullivan addressed hundreds of thousands of fans following a second Stanley Cup championship parade through choked downtown streets in as many summers.Rather than run from the challenge of trying to become the first franchise in 35 years to win three consecutive Cups, Sullivan embraced it.”I wonder if we can repeat, or three-peat, should I say,” Sullivan said.Following an occasionally rocky regular season, the Penguins begin their pursuit in earnest Wednesday night when they host cross-state rival Philadelphia Flyers to open their first-round series. Asked Tuesday if he remembers openly talking about a three-peat – last accomplished by the New York Islanders in 1983 – Sullivan just shrugged. He wasn’t so much predicting another mid-June celebration as he was stating the obvious.”We believe that we have a group that’s capable,” Sullivan said. ”And we’ve shown an ability to have success in a high-stakes environment.”For proof, look no further than the most recent names etched on hockey’s most coveted chalice. The Penguins have won series in all kinds of ways over the last two years. They’ve dominated. They’ve rallied. Mostly, they’ve survived. And the Flyers have noticed.”They have all the pieces,” Philadelphia center Claude Giroux said. ”On paper they’re a really good team and in the playoffs they always find a way.”The Flyers, however Adidas Tomas Tatar Jersey
, present a unique challenge. Philadelphia hasn’t won a playoff series since it beat the favored Penguins in six sometimes chaotic games in 2012. The Flyers pulled off the upset thanks in part to a meltdown by Pittsburgh. The Penguins lost their composure at times, leading to a string of power plays that Philadelphia rode to victory.While the majority of the faces that will take the ice at PPG Paints Arena are different, the history of antagonism between the two clubs remains. Pittsburgh captain Sidney Crosby understands things are likely to get chippy. He’d prefer they not get out of hand.”I don’t think we’re looking to fight,” Crosby said. ”It will definitely be an intense series, we know that.”One in which the erratic Flyers, who endured a 10-game winless streak around Thanksgiving, know they are the underdogs. That’s fine. In some ways, they’ve been one all season.”In reality, when you have to earn your way and your margin of error is pretty short all the way along, it tests you,” Philadelphia coach Dave Haksol said. ”Sometimes you pass the test. Sometimes you fail the test. It tests you and pushes you to get better.”Some things to look for as Philadelphia tries to put an abrupt end to Pittsburgh’s bid at winning a fourth Cup during the Crosby Era.POWER HOUR: The Penguins and their star-laden power play led the league and set a franchise record by scoring 26.2 percent of the time with the man advantage. Their number this season was just a touch better than the 26.0 the 1995-96 club posted Adidas Dan Hamhuis Jersey
, a group that included Hall of Famers Mario Lemieux and Ron Francis and future Hall of Famer Jaromir Jagr. The Flyers understand their best chance to pull off the upset will be by staying out of the penalty box.”They got special players that make special plays,” Giroux said. ”For us it’s to make sure we minimize those chances.”HOW SWEEP IT IS? The Penguins took all four meetings between the teams during the regular season, scoring five goals each time. Look closer, however, and things are tighter than they seem. Both games in Pittsburgh ended with the Penguins escaping 5-4 following goals during the three-on-three overtime. There are no extra-period gimmicks in the playoffs.”I don’t think we’ve played our best game or a full 60 minutes against Pittsburgh yet,” Flyers forward Sean Couturier said. ”But I like our chances if we play some good hockey for 60 minutes, maybe even more.”BRASSARD BONANZA: Pittsburgh’s big move at the trade deadline was to bring in Derick Brassard from Ottawa to center the third line. Brassard appeared to be hitting his stride in late March before suffering a lower-body injury. He should be good to go in Game 1, and his presence gives the Penguins perhaps the best depth down the middle of any team in the league.”I’m just going to try and keep it simple early and go from there,” Brassard said.— SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) The NHL’s worst team isn’t letting a lousy record get them down.Alex Goligoski scored in his third straight game to help the Arizona Coyotes beat the San Jose Sharks 2-1 on Tuesday night.Goligoski, who was playing in his 700th career game Adidas Eric Tangradi Jersey
, also extended his streak of games in which he’s at least one point to five. He has seven points over that stretch. The Coyotes have won three of their last four games and have consecutive wins for just the second time since Nov. 18.”We’re starting to turn the page here,” Coyotes defenseman Kevin Connauton said. ”We’re getting a taste for winning and how good it is. We’ve grown as a team. We’re not hanging our hat on moral victories anymore. We’re actually going into games expecting to win.”Arizona upset a Sharks team scrambling to make the playoffs and in desperate need of a win. San Jose lost for the third time in five games.The Sharks, coming off consecutive come-from-behind wins against Edmonton and Anaheim, were looking for a season sweep of Arizona.San Jose had its chances. The Sharks outshot Arizona 41-28 and were 0 for 5 on power plays.”We got a lot of shots, give credit to their goalies,” Sharks forward Mikkel Boedker said. ”They played hard but yeah, unfortunately we couldn’t bang more than one home.”The sting of losing to the lowly Coyotes was exacerbated by an injury to forward Tomas Hertl, who left the game in the first period after crashing into the boards on a short-handed scoring chance.Sharks coach Pete DeBoer said he didn’t know Hertl’s injury status. The injury-depleted Sharks, already without center Joe Thornton indefinitely, can’t afford to lose Hertl for long.”Those are big holes, but it’s that time of year and you don’t have a choice Adidas Adam Pelech Jersey
,” DeBoer said. Somebody’s got to step up and get the job done, so we’ll look for some answers tomorrow.”Goligoski scored his eighth goal on a power play that broke a 1-1 tie at 9:35 of the second period. He fired a slap shot from behind the penalty circle past Sharks goalie Martin Jones, 23 seconds after Logan Couture was called for holding.”I plan on playing a lot longer than 700 so it’s not really a big deal,” Goligoski said of the milestone. ”I’m fortunate to get to that number.”The Coyotes took an early lead at 7:58 of the first on Kevin Connauton fifth goal. With a collision in front of the goal, Connauton drove the puck past Jones.San Jose tied it shortly afterwards as Boeddeker redirected a Justin Braun slapshot from inside the blue line at 9:20 of the first. With his back to the goal, Boeddeker elevated the puck high into the net past Wedgewood’s right shoulder for his eighth goal.NOTESCoyotes: Coyotes goalie Scott Wedgewood left the game early in the third period after a collision with Timo Meier. Coyotes coach Rick Tocchet said the inury isn’t serious. Antti Raanta, the regular starter on an off day off after a 37-save game in Monday’s 6-1 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks, finished the game for Arizona. Wedgewood had 29 saves and Raanta had 12.Sharks: Jannik Hansen was promoted from the fourth to third line, swapping roles with Melker Karlsson. . D Tim Heed and F Brandon Mashinter were called up from the AHL San Jose BarracudasUP NEXTCoyotes: Open a seven-game homestand on Thursday against Montreal.Sharks: Play at Vancouver on Thursday.