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Penguins, up 3-1, want to keep foot on the pedal

by Wes Crosby

PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Penguins hold a 3-1 lead in their best-of-7 Eastern Conference Second Round series against the New York Rangers, but Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said they are not content.

After losing 3-2 in overtime in Game 1, Pittsburgh has won the next three games by the combined score of 9-2. The Penguins have shut out the Rangers twice and shut down New York’s power play, which has failed to score on its last 36 opportunities.

But despite controlling the momentum, Bylsma will not be satisfied until the Penguins earn a series-clinching win, which could come in Game 5 at Consol Energy Center on Friday (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS).

"We had that mentality going into the last game," Bylsma said. "It was a situation where the Rangers had played, I think, a really good Game 3 and we were able to get a second wind. Last night was either, 2-2 or 3-1 and we didn't want to wait to see how that game would turn out and make it best-of-5.

"Now, we're almost in the same situation. We don't want to give them any life. We don't want to let them any opportunity and we have that ability coming back here at Consol with our fans, in our building, to get that fourth win."

Pittsburgh is arguably playing its best hockey in several months with a nearly healthy lineup. Bylsma said the Penguins began to perform up to their potential late in their Eastern Conference First Round series against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

"You talk about getting to our game and Penguin hockey. With this group, I'm not sure we've had that all year long," Bylsma said. "With injuries we've had, players in and out of our lineup, I don't think you could've said at one stretch of the season that was how we need to play and how we play. We found that in the first round, in Games 5 and 6, and we've gotten good stretches of it here in this round with this group of guys."

Bylsma is not prepared to write off the Rangers, who finished second behind Pittsburgh in the Metropolitan Division.

Goalie Henrik Lundqvist stymied the Penguins for much of the series' first three games before allowing three goals on 21 shots Wednesday. His contributions, combined with the possibility of forwards Martin St. Louis and Rick Nash igniting, could lead to New York making the fourth win the most difficult for Pittsburgh to earn.

"It wasn't that long ago that you lose in overtime in Game 1 and you're down in this series," Bylsma said. "You lose home-ice advantage and you're going into Game 2 almost in desperation mode to win a hockey game. The schedule has been quick and furious here where we've played (Games) 2 and 3 back-to-back and then (Game) 4. So, in pretty short order, it's kind of changed.

"But it's only three wins, and that gets us nothing."

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