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Bouncing Back

by Sam Kasan / Pittsburgh Penguins
The Penguins are trying to forget their 8-2 setback to the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 5 of their opening-round series.

Pittsburgh, which still holds a 3-2 series advantage, is instead focusing its efforts on the Game 6 showdown Monday night at St. Pete Times Forum.

“We’ll put this game behind us. We’re still up 3-2 in the series and have an opportunity to go into their building and win the series,” forward Pascal Dupuis said. “We won twice there already. We know we can beat them in their building.”

“At the end of the day they won a game to make it 3-2. It’s 3-2 in our favor,” head coach Dan Bylsma said. “We’re going on the road to Tampa for Game 6. A lot of the emotions of a loss have to be dealt with and put aside and move onto the situation at hand. We have an opportunity to be the first to get to four wins. Our team has got to get refocused and be ready for Game 6.”

Ever since Bylsma has arrived in Pittsburgh he has fielded a resilient, never-say-die team. Under Bylsma, the Penguins have twice failed to finish off a series with a home contest in Game 5.

But in both instances, the team was successful in ending the series the following game to advance in the playoffs (2009 vs. Philadelphia, 2010 vs. Ottawa).

“If you look at our past or even this season, we love the challenge,” defenseman Kris Letang said. “We have to bounce back. We had a bad performance and we’ll have to correct it.”

The nature of the Penguins loss – by an 8-2 score – doesn’t make the loss any better or worse. But the lopsided loss is nothing the players are worried about.

After all, the Penguins did bounce back from a 5-0 loss in Game 5 of the 2009 Stanley Cup Final in Detroit to win the final two games and capture the franchise’s third championship.

“Whether you lose a (close) heartbreaker or like that, it’s not good either way,” forward Craig Adams said. “The playoffs is all about moving on, putting wins and losses behind you and getting ready for the next game.”

“No team will give it to you,” forward Chris Kunitz said. “It leaves a bad taste in your mouth. We have to go down there and play our best game.”

Another reason for optimism comes from the man between the pipes, despite the fact that he was pulled from Game 5 in the second period.

Following a postseason loss, Marc-Andre Fleury has a 12-4 record in his career. In those 16 games he has posted a 2.01 goals-against average and .927 save percentage.

It’s the playoffs. It’s best out of four and we’re still up 3-2. We’ll forget about that one and be ready for tomorrow. We have to find ways to forget about it, learn from our mistakes and be ready. - Goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury
What’s even more amazing is that when he’s been pulled from a playoff contest, Fleury is nearly unbeatable in the following game. In the three occasions that he’s been pulled, Fleury has gone 3-0 with a 1.33 goals-against average and .958 save percentage in the following games.

“Like everybody else, I’m looking forward to the next game,” Fleury said. “I’m hoping to finish this series and get a win. That’s where my focus is.”

“He’s mentally tough,” Adams said. “He’s done that his whole career in the time that I’ve been here. He’s able to put things behind him, shake it off and come back with a good game. That’s what we all have to do. That’s a big part of what playoffs are all about.”

“If you look at the goals, they are tough goals for him,” Letang said. “It’s goals that he really couldn’t do anything about. He’s had time to refocus and he’s got to be ready for the next game.”

In what may be a somewhat surprising twist, the Penguins are actually looking forward to going on the road. And why wouldn’t they? The team is 2-0 this postseason in Tampa Bay, and has won its past five series by winning the clinching game on the road.

“We play well on the road and have finished series on the road in the past,” Dupuis said. “This group knows how to.”

“(Tampa has) been a great home team all year,” Kunitz said. “To go down and take two from them was a great job on our part. We have to play our best game, play the system and play a full 60 minutes to knock them off.”

Despite what happened in Game 5, the Penguins are still just one win away from eliminating the Lightning and moving on in the postseason.

“It’s the playoffs. It’s best out of four and we’re still up 3-2,” Fleury said. “We’ll forget about that one and be ready for tomorrow. We have to find ways to forget about it, learn from our mistakes and be ready.”
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