Pittsburgh Penguins coach Dan Bylsma is no stranger to Game 7s. He played in three, including with the Anaheim Ducks in Game 7 of the 2003 Stanley Cup Final against the New Jersey Devils.WASHINGTON --
In fact, Bylsma had a tremendous opportunity in a scoreless first period, when he had a shot from in close that missed the mark.
"The memory still haunts me," Bylsma told reporters.
Wednesday night, Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Semifinal series (7 p.m. ET, VERSUS, CBC, RDS) against the Washington Capitals will mark his first win-or-go-home game as an NHL coach.
Bylsma said he's had more preparation time as a coach than he did in any of his Game 7s as a player.
"This game is going to be won by a team that plays their game the best and takes care of the details," Bylsma said. "Games have come down to faceoff goals here or there in each game, a penalty or power play in each game here or there, and this game will come down to those details, so it's about your team playing their game and laying it on the line and treating it like an opportunity and not a hesitation point."
Bylsma said the hardest day for him -- as a player or as a coach -- is the day before Game 7. With just a practice and some meetings to occupy the day, there's too much time for too many thoughts to creep into a person's head.
"I think the tough part about Game 7s and situations like this is the down time," Bylsma said. "Yesterday was a particularly hard day in terms of the thoughts in your head, getting focused, the anticipation of the following day. Once you get to the rink today, you get into your normal routine and things start to slow down and it's more what you expect."
Game 7 history -- The Penguins have a few players on their team with Game 7 experiences, but none of them can match Ruslan Fedotenko's.
Playing with the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 7 of the 2004 Stanley Cup Final, Fedotenko scored both Lightning goals in a 2-1 victory.
He said the best advice for his teammates is to remember that despite what's at stake, it's still the same game they've always played.
"It's still just a game," he told NHL.com. "Don't be afraid to play your game."
Rocking the rockers -- With the "Rock the Red" slogan, red horns and red cowbells clanging most of the game, Washington's Verizon Center is rocketing up the list of loudest arenas.
The Penguins hope they can rock the fans to sleep with a strong start. They've come out hard in each game in Washington, and doing it again is imperative.
"Just the first five, 10 minutes we know they're going to come hard," said Pens defenseman Brooks Orpik. "We saw (in Game 5) they were outshooting us here 8-0, and I think five minutes later it was 8-8. I don't want to say weather the storm because you don't want to sit back, but you know they're going to come out hard, and even if you don't score in the first five or 10 minutes, you want to play the right way and play in their end as much as possible."
While scoring the first goal in this series hasn't amounted to much -- only once has the team that's scored first won the game -- the Pens want to repeat their feat of the first three games in Washington and score the first goal.
"I don't know how important the first goal is," said Orpik. "Most series it is, but this series it's kind of been the opposite. On the road you want to get the first goal and that takes the crowd out.
"It's one of those things you really want to get a good start in the first 10 minutes."