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Stanley Cup Final

Penguins not dwelling on Game 3 loss

Pittsburgh's attitude in right place, focus shifts to Monday

by Dan Rosen @drosennhl / NHL.com Senior Writer

SAN JOSE -- A loss in the Stanley Cup Final didn't do anything to change the vibe around the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Upbeat. Confident. Happy. Fun. They seemed to be all of that and more when they hit the ice for practice at 1 p.m. local time Sunday, about 16 hours after Joonas Donskoi's goal in overtime lifted the San Jose Sharks to a 3-2 win against the Penguins in Game 3 at SAP Center on Saturday.

The Penguins still lead the best-of-7 series 2-1 heading into Game 4 here on Monday (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, TVA Sports).

"I've been really happy and proud of the attitude that we've carried through this entire playoffs, but especially in the Final," Penguins center Matt Cullen said. "I really feel a hungry group in here. I think guys are dying to get back on the ice [Monday] night. Not that we feel we were wronged in anyway, but I feel like we feel that we left it out there and didn't have our very, very best. I love that about our group."

Cullen said a key for the Penguins is to avoid overanalyzing what happened in Game 3 and how they lost. They out-shot the Sharks 42-26. They had 38 blocked shots. They lost in overtime, yet they were good enough to win.

Video: PIT@SJS, Gm3: Murray slides cross-crease to make save

"We were a shot away, a bounce away, and we had plenty of opportunities at the end of the third and in overtime to win it," Cullen said. "I don't think it was a dominant performance by any team. They played like a team that had their backs against the wall and I thought we responded, I thought we met the challenge pretty well, but I think there's another level. I think we can be better."

An example is their breakouts. The Penguins were excellent breaking out of the zone, bypassing the Sharks forecheck, in Games 1 and 2. They were just OK in Game 3 for a few reasons.

The Sharks pressured up the wall a bit more, preventing the Penguins from getting good chips out of the zone.

"We didn't get as many pucks out, I think that was the problem," left wing Carl Hagelin said. "Their D was pinching hard, doing a good job around the walls. As wingers I think we've got to be stiffer in the next game in getting some more pucks out in those certain areas."

When the Penguins did flip the puck out, the Sharks seemed to be able to anticipate the play and therefore got to more loose pucks than they did in either Game 1 or Game 2. Hagelin said it was about 50-50 for the game, not good enough for the Penguins considering their speed.

"I think it comes down to our execution," defenseman Ben Lovejoy said. "Sometimes when the nice tape-to-tape pass is there you have to use it, and when it's not we want to chip pucks behind them and go get them. I don't think we were quite good enough at that [Saturday] night."

The Penguins weren't dangerous on their one power play opportunity either. Sidney Crosby blamed himself for making some bad passes in the neutral zone that prevented clean zone entries.

Pittsburgh is 0-for-6 on the power play in the Cup Final and 0-for-11 in its past four games going back to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Video: PIT@SJS, Gm3: Hornqvist deflects it past Jones

"We need all five guys aggressive, because [Saturday] night I know we play casual, we play soft, we [don't] shoot puck," center Evgeni Malkin said. "We had [one shot] on power play. We need for sure aggressive all five guys."

They also might need Malkin to produce (he has zero points in the series and one goal in the past 15 games).

"I know he's going to be a big part of the next few games here," Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said of Malkin.

Getting some more from Crosby couldn't hurt either. He was dynamic in Games 1 and 2, the best player on either team, but he was checked well by Sharks defensemen Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Justin Braun in Game 3 and wasn't as effective.

But again, the Penguins can't get caught overanalyzing Game 3 because they lost.

"It's real easy to look at it and say, 'Man, we were not good,'" Cullen said, "but in reality we were good."

And they still have a chance to split in San Jose to give themselves a chance to win the Stanley Cup at home in Game 5. They don't need any more motivation than that.

"I really love the mindset in here," Cullen said. "We have an extremely hungry group that wants to get after it. It wasn't like we came in here up two-zip, took a deep breath and took a step back. We were prepared and really trying to take advantage. We didn't, and so [Monday] we get another chance. It's a big one for us."

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