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Penguins don't see history repeating itself

Feel they're different team than the one that gave up 3-1 series lead to Rangers in 2014

by Wes Crosby / NHL.com Correspondent

PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Penguins are not concerned with history repeating itself, but they are aware of what occurred two years ago against the New York Rangers.

The Penguins play the Rangers in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference First Round at Consol Energy Center on Saturday (3 p.m. ET; NBC, TVA Sports, SN360) and lead the best-of-7 series 3-1.

It's the same spot they were in two years ago, when they played the Rangers in the 2014 Eastern Conference Second Round. They led that series 3-1 with Game 5 at home but scored one goal in each of the final three games and lost the series in seven.

"I think [we have to] just make sure our desperation level is where it needs to be," Penguins captain Sidney Crosby said. "You're playing a team with their back against the wall. You get a desperate hockey team and you need to make sure you match their desperation. I think as long as we understand that, that's the biggest thing."

Video: PIT@NYR, Gm4: Malkin buries two goals to down Rangers

Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said he has instructed his players to forget the past since before this series began. His message has seemed effective through five games, possibly because a majority of the players weren't part of what happened two years ago, or in 2015 when the Penguins lost to the Rangers in the first round.

Pittsburgh forward Carl Hagelin was with New York during those playoff series, and sent Pittsburgh into the offseason a year ago with a series-deciding overtime goal in Game 5.

Hagelin, who was with the Rangers when they came back from 3-1 down in the second round against the Washington Capitals last year, said he might provide the Penguins with a few tips on how to approach Game 5 but those details would remain private.

"You look down the lineup, there's a lot of new faces, a lot of new players and new staff," Hagelin said. "So I don't think anyone is looking back. It's all about looking forward and we're a confident group. We're going to be ready for the challenge tomorrow."

Video: Malkin's 4 points help propel Penguins to game 4 win

Seven Penguins were on the roster against the Rangers in 2014: forwards Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Chris Kunitz and Beau Bennett, defensemen Kris Letang and Olli Maatta, and goalie Marc-Andre Fleury. Five of those seven have played this series; Fleury and Bennett are injured.

"The past is the past," Sullivan said. "This is a new team, a new coaching staff, a new experience. We're taking each game as it comes. We understand that the elimination game is the most difficult one, so our intensity and our compete level has to be higher. Our attention to detail has to be better."

Rookie goalie Matt Murray, 21, was starting his career in the American Hockey League while the Penguins were losing to the Rangers in 2014. This time, he has allowed one goal in the past two games, including his first NHL playoff shutout, a 5-0 Game 4 win Thursday.

He said he doesn't think what happened in 2014 will play any role come Saturday.

"I've watched this team pretty much every game since I've been drafted here [in 2012]," he said. "That's in the past. We're going to try to stay present, stay in the moment and focus on the task at hand … It's going to be a heck of a challenge."

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