Three wins in a row.
Against the Presidents’ Trophy-winning team.
That’s the position the Pittsburgh Penguins, trailing 3-1 in their First Round Stanley Cup playoff series, find themselves following their 2-1 overtime loss to the New York Rangers in Game 4 at CONSOL Energy Center Wednesday night.
Is it a difficult task?
Is it going to take every bit of effort, sweat, and a little bit of luck?
Is it an impossible task?
No. It’s not impossible. Twice in their history the Pens overcame a 3-1 series deficit to advance (1992 and ’95, both against the Washington Capitals).
And keep in mind what happened just 11-plus months ago with the script flipped. The Rangers pulled off the series victory in Game 7 after trailing 3-1 in the series against Pittsburgh in last year’s Second Round when these two teams were in reversed roles.
Winning three games in a row against the NHL’s regular-season champion may seem daunting. Luckily, the Pens don’t have to win three in a row. They only have to win one, Friday night at Madison Square Garden.
“All you can do is go out there and be desperate and get (the series) back (to Pittsburgh),” captain Sidney Crosby said.
“It’s one game at a time,” center Maxim Lapierre said. “We have to go there and win one. That’s it.”
The Rangers may lead the series 3-1, but they haven’t been as dominant as that advantage indicates. All four contests were decided by one goal, and Game 4 required an overtime session.
One bounce in that overtime in favor of the Pens and this series is even at 2-2. But as assistant coach Rick Tocchet said, “there are no moral victories.” The Pens didn’t get the bounce, and now their season is on the line in Game 5.
“We should be loose and going after it,” Crosby said. “You don’t want to be tentative in a game like that. You have to leave it all out there.”
Overall, the Pens are happy with the way they’ve played and competed. They are still confident they can win this series despite the odds.
“I don’t think anybody is down,” forward Nick Spaling said. “(Game 4) didn’t go the way we wanted. It’s tough to lose like that. I think we played a good game. We’re still up in here. We’re ready to go for the next game.”
The Pens’ goal is simple, really. Just win. Otherwise, they know the consequences.
As defenseman Ben Lovejoy said:
“We’re down 3-1. We need to go to New York and win.”