BOSTON -- The Pittsburgh Penguins have not been in this situation in years.
No, not the situation where they find themselves down 0-2 to the Boston Bruins in the Eastern Conference Final heading into Game 3 on the road Wednesday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS). The Penguins were in this very predicament in round one of the Stanley Cup Playoffs just last season, and it didn't turn out very well; they dropped Game 3 in Philadelphia to the Flyers 8-3 before going on to lose the series in six games.Rather, it is the Eastern Conference Final itself that has been a foreign place for the Penguins since they last won the Stanley Cup in 2009, and their ability to remain in this series will be on the line Wednesday.
Though it is far from ideal, it is a test of character that is somewhat welcomed by the Penguins.
"You don't plan to be in this situation," Pittsburgh captain Sidney Crosby said, "but you definitely see what you're made of in these types of scenarios."
Since winning it all in 2009, the Penguins were eliminated in seven games in the second round by the Montreal Canadiens in 2010, in seven games in the first round by the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2011, then in six last year by the Flyers. In each of those instances, the Penguins were the higher-seeded team in the series, and that’s the case this year against the Bruins.
"We know the situation we're in, we're down 0‑2 and we're challenged with going on the road to Boston for two," Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said. "We're going to find out an awful lot about our mindset, our team coming out tonight in this game."
Crosby and Evgeni Malkin played in each of those series losses except the one against Tampa Bay, and other core players, defensemen Brooks Orpik and Kris Letang and forwards Pascal Dupuis, Chris Kunitz, Tyler Kennedy and Craig Adams, played in every series since the last Penguins championship.
The game Wednesday will be a chance for this group to prove itself as a playoff-hardened one that can live up to the lofty expectations having such a tremendous collection of talent can create.
"When your back's to the wall a little bit and you're down 2-0 in the series, you have to react and bring your A game," Dupuis said. "I'm pretty sure we will tonight."
Having all that veteran experience is not exclusive to the Penguins -- the Bruins also have numerous players who have won a Stanley Cup and lived through bitter playoff disappointments -- but it should help Pittsburgh remain focused and confident in Game 3 in spite of how poorly the first two games of the series went.
"Everyone's excited to get another opportunity," Orpik said. "It was a pretty loose practice, guys were pretty upbeat. We've turned the page from the last two games, and we know we can't play much worse. So hopefully we'll be better tonight."
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