-- The Pittsburgh Penguins
have been here before. They know the drill.
It took a Game 7 victory in the Stanley Cup Final last year in Detroit to win a championship and a Game 7 win at Washington just to reach the conference finals.
Now, they'll need to do it again Wednesday when they host the Montreal Canadiens
in this Eastern Conference Semifinal at Mellon Arena (7 p.m. ET, VERSUS, CBC, RDS). A victory would allow the Pens to continue their title defense in Round 3. A loss would send them home for the summer and continue Montreal's magical run.
Despite the experience in his dressing room, though, Penguins coach Dan Bylsma
isn't so sure it will come into play when the puck drops for Game 7.
"Last year it didn't feel like Game 7 in Washington helped us in Game 7 in Detroit," Bylsma said. "Certainly the experience is probably a good thing. But it is about this game tonight. These two teams have battled six games to get to this one. Both teams are going to know what's at stake. If experience helps, my stomach doesn't feel it right now."
That's expected, considering his team's season is on the line against the No. 8 Canadiens, who sent Alex Ovechkin
and the Washington Capitals
home for the summer last round, and now can do the same to Sidney Crosby
& Co. While the fear of being eliminated could be something the Pens can use to their advantage, Bylsma hopes his players simply remain focused.
"I'm a big fan of paying attention to your emotions," Bylsma said. "I think if every person, if they were honest, they'd say fear has entered their mind or the anticipation of what might happen. But I don't think fear is an emotion that I'm going to stir up to try to play your best game. We're going to go out and set our mind on playing hard, dictating the pace and the tempo and playing this game the way we want it to be played."
Naturally, a large portion of Wednesday's outcome will be dictated by the goaltending. Marc-Andre Fleury
is confident he will bounce back after allowing four goals on 25 shots in Game 6.
History says he will, too.
"I'm pretty excited," said Fleury, who is 15-5 in the postseason in games following losses. "The games have been very tight. Maybe I'm thinking a little bit more than usually, but as a group we've been here before. It's good experience and we've gained from it."
The Canadiens certainly haven't shown any fear in this series. With their season on the line Monday in Game 6, the Habs scored just 1:13 into the game on the first of two goals by Michael Cammalleri
. Pittsburgh knows it can't afford another slow start.
"Each game has its own identity," Pens forward Chris Kunitz
said. "We know that we need to play a better game than we did last game. We need to have a better start and do the things that make us successful."
If not, well, the Pens know what will happen to them.
"Everyone fears not moving on," Bylsma said. "But playing with fear in your mind as you handle the puck … that's not where I'd like our players to be tonight. We know where we'd like to go."
Follow Brian Compton on Twitter: @BComptonNHL