PITTSBURGH -- Not surprisingly, the comments made by Ottawa Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson in the aftermath of Game 4 were still a primary topic of discussion 36 hours later on the morning of Game 5.
After absorbing a 7-3 shellacking in Game 4 Wednesday, on home ice, no less, Alfredsson was asked if he could see his team winning three straight games to wriggle free of the elimination situation they now face for the duration of this best-of-7 series, starting Friday at Consol Energy Center (7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS).
His answer sent shockwaves across the province of Ontario and many other hockey-mad communities across North America.
"Probably not," Alfredsson said in the Ottawa dressing room Wednesday night. "I mean, with their depth and power play right now, you know, it doesn't look too good."
Many saw that statement as a concession speech of sorts from the Ottawa leader. Others saw it as a motivational ploy. Alfredsson has since tried to clarify his comment but has not backed off it.
The Penguins, who have the opportunity to close out Alfredsson and the Senators with a win Friday night, admitted to hearing about what the Ottawa captain said, but said it was not viewed as the waving of a white flag.
"I heard parts of it, but I don't know what he was asked, the context of it or anything," Pittsburgh captain Sidney Crosby said. "But I don't think we pay attention to what is said a whole lot, anyways. We worry about ourselves. It doesn't change what we have to do [in Game 5]. We'll worry about that and focus on that."
Pittsburgh players throughout the dressing room Friday morning were following their captain's lead.
James Neal said he expected to see Ottawa's best game and had no expectations that the Senators would roll over for the Penguins.
Even Brandon Sutter, in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time, quickly dismissed the whole thing as an advantage for his team.
"I'm not going to worry too much about it," Sutter said. "I'm going to worry about tonight's game and that is about all I can say. We expect them to play well, no matter what the comments that were made after the game. We're coming out thinking we have to play our best game."