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Round 1

Penguins not looking past Blue Jackets

Pittsburgh, up 3-0 in series, concerned with staying in moment in Game 4

by Craig Merz / Correspondent

COLUMBUS -- After winning the first three games in the best-of-7 Eastern Conference First Round series against the Columbus Blue Jackets, the focus for the Pittsburgh Penguins remains winning Game 4 at Nationwide Arena on Tuesday, not thoughts of the next round.

It's a mantra instilled by coach Mike Sullivan and one that the defending Stanley Cup champions have readily grasped.

"We've been in this situation before," defenseman Trevor Daley said Monday. "We know who we're up against. It's a great team over there that has a lot of pride and we're going to see their best tomorrow."


[RELATED: Complete Penguins-Blue Jackets series coverage]


It's been a frustrating series for Columbus, and Game 3 epitomized the difference between a young team and one with much more playoff experience.

Fueled by the home crowd, the Blue Jackets scored three goals on Marc-Andre Fleury in the first 6:10 of the game Sunday, but they lost 5-4 in overtime.

"The first period wasn't as bad as it looked on the scoreboard," Penguins defenseman Olli Maatta said. "We played OK and the second and third we started playing the right way, the way we wanted.

"We all know it's a team that when we play the right way, we're good enough team to beat anybody."

Sullivan said he liked the way his players dealt with the early pressure and remained focus on sticking with their structure, particularly his goaltender.

"Marc might have been our best player at that [Sunday] night," Sullivan said. "When goals go in early on a goaltender, it's easy to get rattled. Marc didn't at all. He was focused and stayed in the moment, and that's important, especially in that position."

Video: PIT@CBJ, Gm3: Guentzel completes hatty for OT win

Fleury, 32, has been around long enough to know that the Blue Jackets will step up their game Tuesday.

"We're all aware it's not over," he said. "It's something we talked about after the last game. We know they're a feisty team and get a lot of energy from their home crowd. It's not over until we win that one."

That's where Sullivan will rely on his veterans.

"We talk about staying in the moment a lot," Sullivan said. "This time of the year, distractions can be detrimental if you're not vigilant in making sure you keep your mindset where it needs to be. This group is a mature group and they understand it. Having said that, they need to go out there and do it.

"We haven't won anything. We haven't accomplished anything to this point. We've got to make sure we approach tomorrow's game just like we approached the first three. We can't dwell on the past. We can't look to the future. We have to stay in the moment."

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