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Pens seeking rare consecutive Cup titles

(AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

PITTSBURGH (AP) The dynasty that once appeared so certain is again in the offing for the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Four victories against the Nashville Predators in the Stanley Cup Final would make Pittsburgh the first franchise to win back-to-back championships in nearly 20 years and the first in the parity-driven salary cap era. It would give stars Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin their third Cup, one more than their boss - owner Mario Lemieux - earned during his Hall of Fame career and check off whatever boxes remain unchecked for a duo that is becoming one of the most accomplished in NHL history.

Yet for all the resiliency the Penguins have shown during their injury-marred title defense, they are taking nothing for granted heading into Game 1 on Monday night.

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Leafs-Caps to play outdoor game at Navy

The NHL will play an outdoor game at a U.S. service academy for the first time when the Washington Capitals host the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, next season.

Two people with knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press on Saturday that the Capitals and Maple Leafs will meet March 3 at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. The people spoke on condition of anonymity because the league had not announced the event.

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Pens, Preds have overcome big injuries

No one is totally healthy this late in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, certainly not the last two teams standing.

The Pittsburgh Penguins knew they'd be without top defenseman Kris Letang for the entire playoffs because of neck surgery and winger Chris Kunitz for the start, and they lost starting goaltender Matt Murray in warmups before Game 1 in the first round. Along the way they dealt with injuries to defensemen Justin Schultz, Trevor Daley and Chad Ruhwedel, wingers Bryan Rust, Patric Hornqvist and Carl Hagelin and even played - and won - a game without captain Sidney Crosby.

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Minus Letang, no-name Pens 'D' thriving

PITTSBURGH (AP) The handful of men who carry out the most thankless of tasks for the Pittsburgh Penguins are a rag-tag group thrown together by circumstance and a touch of foresight by general manager Jim Rutherford.

They are largely anonymous and blissfully so, only too happy to work in the considerable shadows created by the stars who play in front of them and their unquestioned leader, the one forced to watch the franchise's run to a second straight Stanley Cup Final in immaculately tailored suits from the press box while he recovers from neck surgery.

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Laviolette, Sullivan make US history

Hockey history will be made for American coaches in the Stanley Cup Final.

The Cup has been handed out 89 times to the champion of the NHL since 1927. For the first time, two American coaches will face off in the final when the Nashville Predators' Peter Laviolette goes up against the Pittsburgh Penguins' Mike Sullivan.

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Power plays less successful in playoffs

Having a potent power play is certainly useful in getting to the playoffs. Once there, maybe not as much.

Eight of the top 11 power-play teams in the playoffs this year lost in the first round, and the Ottawa Senators pushed the Pittsburgh Penguins to double overtime in Game 7 despite going 1 for 20 in the Eastern Conference final. It doesn't hurt to have a good power play, as the Penguins showed in getting some big goals with the man advantage, but it's far less important in the chase for the Stanley Cup than strong 5-on-5 play.

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Preds GM has chance at Cup after 35 yrs.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) David Poile thought he could squeeze in a quick day off after the exhilarating run by the Nashville Predators to their first Stanley Cup Final.

Wrong.

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'Hawks give D Kempny 1-year extension

CHICAGO (AP) The Chicago Blackhawks have agreed to a one-year contract with defenseman Michal Kempny.

Kempny was set to become a restricted free agent July 1. The extension runs through the 2017-18 season.

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Pens win Game 7 in 2OT, to defend title

PITTSBURGH (AP) Chris Kunitz spent a portion of the spring nursing a lower-body injury and wondering if his time with the Pittsburgh Penguins was over. The veteran forward's contract is up this summer and he's been around long enough to know how these things go, particularly when you're 37.

"It's not fun thinking about the future," Kunitz said.

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Subban still taking change in stride

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) It has been an extraordinary 11 months for P.K. Subban.

The defenseman moved from the Eastern Conference to the Western Conference. Left his native Canada to live in the American South. Blended in with new teammates, created a new home and learned a new system of money, too.

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