PITTSBURGH – While Saturday night's Game 5 (7 p.m. ET, VERSUS, CBC, RDS). is not a true must-win situation, Pittsburgh captain Sidney Crosby is treating it as such. Win Game 5 here at Mellon Arena and the Penguins charter back to Montreal with a three games-to-two lead and opportunity to close out this best-of-seven Eastern Conference semifinal on Monday night at the Bell Centre.
Pittsburgh has closed out each of its last five series, dating back to the 2009 Stanley Cup Final, away from home. Lose Saturday night and the Penguins will face the unenviable task of winning back-to-back elimination games against a red-hot goalie in Jaroslav Halak and a team that is starting to believe it has a date with destiny.
Saturday morning, Crosby discussed the stake involved in Game 5, as well as the return of Billy Guerin from his absence in Game 4. He also discussed his team's ability to navigate the high and lows that are inherent in any playoff run of substance.
Question: No goals against Montreal. Is there frustration in your game or do you want to stay patient and something will come?
Crosby: I'm confident if I keep getting the chances, they are going to go in. You have to do the right things. Those things happen and you can't score every night. You'd like to, but there are times when you don't get the bounces and during those times that is when you have to bear down, keep doing the right things and eventually it will go in. If I get the same chances I got last game, I like my opportunity to score.
Question: Is the idea to go back to Montreal 3-2?
Crosby: I guess you could say that for both teams. Either way you look at we have to go back to Montreal and we're going there looking to win a game. We want to make sure that we get this one. This is a big opportunity for us to be home in a game like this. Certainly it is important.
Question: You guys have played a lot of playoff games. Have you learned anything about handling the highs and lows of the playoffs?
Crosby: You have to focus on your game and not get caught up in other things. You have to know what your game looks like and be honest with yourself and be honest with your team. If you are doing good things, creating things, there is always going to be little adjustments; but if you know what your game looks like and you're confident with it, you have to stick with it.
Question: Have you personally or the team gotten better at that or has it always been pretty good?
Crosby: I think (the team) has always been pretty good. I think there has always been a confidence in everybody and a trust there that when the time comes and when it is important, everyone is going to do the job. That is something that is built. It doesn't happen overnight. But, I think that trust is there and it is important, especially as the games get bigger.
Question: Can you put your finger on why this is a team that closes out series on the road more often than not?
Crosby: If we could put our finger on it, we'd probably close out a lot more here. I don't know if there is any specific reason or a coincidence. When you are playing a team that's got their back against the wall, they're desperate and more often that not they rebound or bounce back. There's proof of that in this year's playoffs. There is always that extra desperation with teams with their backs against the wall and you have to be able to match that.
Question: Is it nice to have Jordan Staal back and did you expect him to come back so soon?
Crosby: It's great to have him back. No, I didn't expect to have him back so soon. Nobody knew what to think. It's kind of an unusual injury; but he is back and it's great to have him back.
Question: When Bill Guerin comes back, can you tell how he is feeling just from being in the room with him?
Crosby: I think he is feeling pretty good, by the sounds of things and by looking at him. He looks like he is at his best right now.
Question: What does it mean to have him back in your lineup?
Crosby: It's great. He's got a Lot of experience and I have played with him for a long time, too. We've played together for a couple of years now. Again, Staalsy's back, so we have that flow that we are used to having. So, it's good to have everyone back.