"This is a position for both teams where our desperation has to be there to finish it."
-- Sidney Crosby
The last time the Pittsburgh Penguins
had a chance to close a series in their building, it was Game 5 of the first round against the Philadelphia Flyers
They threw 15 shots on Philadelphia goalie Martin Biron
in the first 20 minutes, but came away empty. The Flyers clamped down defensively after that, allowing just 13 shots over the final 40 minutes. Meanwhile, the Flyers got an Arron Asham
goal in the second period and a pair of scores in the third to take a 3-0 victory and force Game 6 in Philadelphia. The Penguins won in Philadelphia, but it was far more stressful than it needed to be.
Monday night (7 p.m. ET, VERSUS, TSN, RDS), they have a chance to eliminate the Washington Capitals
in their Eastern Conference Semifinal series here at Mellon Arena and avoid a return trip to Washington for Game 7 Wednesday.
So how do they avoid making the same mistakes against the Caps they made against Philadelphia?
"That game, it started great," Penguins captain Sidney Crosby
said. "We got frustrated it didn't go in and we kind of got away from things. When you get away from what you need to do to be successful you're going to get into trouble. We have to stick with what works and keep doing it.
"We got frustrated because the puck didn't go in and we changed things up a bit and we can't afford to do that. We have to stick with what's made us successful and believe that's going to make for a good result."
Crosby knows it's a result that won't come easy. With their season on the line, Washington will come out full bore from the opening puck drop. Crosby said his team's job is to match that level.
"This is a position for both teams where our desperation has to be there to finish it," Crosby said. "For them, they want to stay alive. I'm sure you'll see two desperate teams. For us, we have to make sure we're matching it."
Continuing to get pucks and bodies to the Washington net again will be a major focus for the Pens. They put 42 shots on net in Game 5, and three of their four goals came from plays at or near the net.
"Guys have made great shots," Crosby said. "We jumped on a couple rebounds. He's a solid goalie, doesn't give up on plays. You just have to make sure you take advantage of your chances."
The Penguins hope to take advantage of this chance to close the series and save themselves a return trip to the nation's capital.
"It takes four and we're one win away," said Crosby. "This is an opportunity for us and we have to bear down."
Contact Adam Kimelman at firstname.lastname@example.org