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Pens have faith they'll turn it around at home

by Adam Kimelman / NHL.com

"It's difficult. It's not where we want to be. We're disappointed at this point in time in being down 2-0, but you have to draw upon what you know. We have some experience, but I also think we have a belief that we can win hockey games if we play the right way."
-- Dan Bylsma

The Pittsburgh Penguins are no strangers to adversity this season. If they want to extend their time on the ice, they'll have to find something more at the bottom of their resiliency reservoir.

The Penguins are behind 2-0 in the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Washington Capitals, but feel they are far from out of the series.

"You just have to keep grinding," forward Bill Guerin said. "We have faith in our game. We have faith in our system and the guys in this room. We believe in ourselves. It's a good feeling to know we're going back home and get a couple games there."

The first two games of the series have been one-goal affairs, leading the Penguins to believe they don't have to change much to get back in the series.

"From our point of view we want to make sure we fix a few things, but we don't want to change our game a whole lot," captain Sidney Crosby said. "That's the way we want to play as far as forechecking, being physical. The power play still needs to get a little sharper. There's not a whole lot of difference between the two teams right now. It's one play here or there (and) it's a one-goal game both games. There's not a lot of room for error; we just have to make sure we got those big plays."

Crosby has provided more than his share of big plays, scoring four of the Pens' five goals in the series. But he can't do it alone -- Pittsburgh's other forwards need to step up their games. Guerin hasn't scored since Game 2 against Philadelphia, Ruslan Fedotenko has just one goal, Evgeni Malkin hasn't scored in five games and Chris Kunitz hasn't scored at all.

"You want to do more, help out more, but you can't get outside what you can do," Kunitz said. "You try not to stray away from what you're doing and make sure you're doing everything right, but you have to put pucks on net, you have to go to the net and make sure you're bearing down when you have those chances."

Bearing down on the power play also would help. The Pens scored twice with the extra man in Game 2, snapping an 0-for-17 skid that dated back to Game 4 of the first round. Still, the Pens had other chances that slipped away, including a 46-second two-man advantage late in the first period.

"We did a better job on our power play tonight in a couple different areas," coach Dan Bylsma said. "It's a reason why we got success. On the five-on-three we had a couple good chances, came up empty there. We executed, got our chances and we didn't get the goal. The last play was a big one -- they got the power-play goal when they needed it late in the game. In that regard they one-upped us. Our power play was much better tonight and that's a good sign for us."

They'll need more to get back in the series, but no one should overlook what the Penguins accomplished just to get to this point.

When Bylsma replaced Michel Therrien as coach Feb. 15, the Pens were spiraling downward and likely to miss the postseason. Under Bylsma, however, the Pens finished 18-3-4 to steal the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference.

With a chance to eliminate the Philadelphia Flyers in the first round of the playoffs, they trailed 3-0 in Game 6 at a raucous Wachovia Center, but rallied to win 5-3.

"We were tested in the Philly series, tested in Game 6 and responded, and now we're tested again," Bylsma said. "We didn't get a game here and we're going back home for two in our building. The good news is it should be pretty clear what we need to get better at, and what we need to focus on. We can get better and we have a chance to do it going home. Our group is a group that has responded in tough times this year. We responded in the first round. I'm confident we're going to respond in Game 3."

Kunitz said moving on fast is the best way to go.

Pittsburgh Penguins Playoff Gear"It's in the past," he said. "We can't do anything about it now. We've got to look forward. ... Every game is a different game. When you're out there you've got to be positive, you've got to keep going forward. You don't get many chances if you start getting negative."

"Belief is a big part in what you're doing and how you're doing it in situations like this," Bylsma said. "It's difficult. It's not where we want to be. We're disappointed at this point in time in being down 2-0, but you have to draw upon what you know. We have some experience, but I also think we have a belief that we can win hockey games if we play the right way.

"We have to get better and we also need to spend the next day getting our head in the right spot and believing that if we do the right things we're going to have a good chance to win Game 3."

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com.



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