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Saturday's Penguins Notebook

by Brian Compton

Pittsburgh needs to get off to a better start when it hosts Philadelphia in Game 5 on Sunday afternoon.
WATCH highlights from Game 4
Taking the momentum — While it was the Philadelphia Flyers who came out victorious in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals, the Pittsburgh Penguins surged late in the third period and nearly erased a 3-0 deficit. The Pens scored twice on a pair of goals from Jordan Staal before Joffrey Lupul iced the game with an empty-net tally.

Clearly, Pittsburgh needs to get off to a better start when it hosts Philadelphia in Game 5 on Sunday afternoon.

“They played really well in the first period,” Penguins coach Michel Therrien said of the Flyers, who scored three times in the opening 20 minutes. “They were desperate, and we had a hard time in that first period to match the desperation. But I believe in the second and third we started to play the way we're capable of playing, and we're going to need to bring that to the next game.

“We've got momentum, especially in the third period. We could have tied the game. We got some great chances, so we'll try to bring the momentum that we got especially in the third period to the start of tomorrow's game.”

Staal agreed that his team needs to get off to a better start in Game 5.

“Obviously we want to get a better start,” he said. “I think we had a tough start in Philly. We definitely don't want to go back to Philly, that's for sure. It ain't fun playing there. Obviously, we want to get this done right now, and we're focused on just one game right now. I think right now we feel pretty good about our game, and we just want to have a good start again and we'll go from there.”

Will home ice pay off? — By racking up 102 points during the regular season and winning the Atlantic Division, the Penguins have had home-ice advantage in each of the first three rounds of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Therrien is hoping the raucous crowd at Mellon Arena will give his club an added boost when the puck drops on Sunday afternoon.

“Home ice is huge,” Therrien said. “And you work really hard through the course of the season to get home ice. We like to play in front of our fans.

Our fans have been great, and we've got their support. And that's why we're glad that Game 5 is going to be home. We're glad that we have home ice advantage, because we're a tough team to play in our building.”

Focusing on themselves — While much of the talk surrounding Game 5 centers of the possible returns of Flyers defensemen Kimmo Timonen and Braydon Coburn, the Penguins aren’t about to alter their game plan.

Nonetheless, Pittsburgh is aware of the type of boost the return of their top defensive pair can provide the Flyers.

“We focus on our team and how we're supposed to play,” Therrien said. “Timonen is a good defenseman for them. But when we played Ottawa, we had a similar thing. They got (Daniel) Alfredsson back in the lineup, and it brings some energy.

“But it's demanding for players. Especially when you're missing so long, you lose your game shape. This is playoff hockey and a playoff game. They're demanding. Timonen is going to have to be ready to play a playoff hockey game. In the meantime, it's not about them, it's about us. And we're going to play, and we're going to focus on the way we're supposed to play.”

Should Timonen return to the lineup, Penguins captain Sidney Crosby knows he and Evgeni Malkin will be seeing a lot of Philadelphia’s top defenseman.

“He's been a big part of their team,” Crosby said of Timonen, who is a plus-5 this postseason. “I don't know what the match-ups are going to be, but he usually plays against the top line. So I'm sure either our line or Geno's line will see a lot of him.”


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