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Notebook: Home-Ice Advantage

by Michelle Crechiolo / Pittsburgh Penguins
The Penguins have hit their stride at home, going 5-0-1 in their last six games at CONSOL Energy Center.


After starting the season with three straight losses in their brand-new arena, the team has adjusted to their new home and it shows in their play.

Hockey players are known for being a superstitious bunch, so it took some time for each Penguin to nail down their game-day routines in an unfamiliar setting.

“You got to start to know your little routine before games, how to get ready in a new building, and find what works for you,” forward Pascal Dupuis said.

“Everything was new, guys were running around trying to find whatever worked for them to get ready. Guys are finding this right now, and it’s working. Everybody’s got their little routine, and it works now.”

Pittsburgh has had plenty of success on the road thus far, going 8-3-1 overall this season in opposing arenas. Pair that with the team’s newfound home-ice advantage, and the red-hot Penguins, currently on an 8-0-1 unbeaten tear, become an even more dangerous squad.

Head coach Dan Bylsma credited the fans, who have filled the stands at Penguins games for 178 consecutive games, for making the team feel comfortable.

“We’ve done a good job on the road, but early on we didn’t get the results at home,” he said. “But now, with putting the wins together and getting the results here, I think it’s starting to feel like home. Our fans are starting to make it feel like home as well with the atmosphere in the building. We’d like to keep that string going.”

“That was definitely one of our main concerns, to make this an unforgiving place for the visitor to play,” goaltender Brent Johnson said, who made 30 saves in Saturday’s 4-1 defeat of the Calgary Flames. “I think we did that (Friday), and we did it again (Saturday).”


SECOND-GAME STARS

You’d think the Penguins would be tired when playing back-to-back games, but the team thrives off of it.

This weekend marked the Penguins fifth set of back-to-back contests. With Saturday’s win, Pittsburgh now holds a perfect 5-0 record in the second of back-to-back games. They’ve improved to 8-2 overall this season when playing two straight games.

And not only did Pittsburgh win, but the team played with tons of energy, firing 43 shots on goal, their second-highest total so far this season.

“The guys were just flying out there,” Johnson said. “We were relentless around the puck, it just seemed like we were giving out the body no matter what the consequences.”

Defenseman Alex Goligoski, who logged 20-plus minutes of ice time on Saturday, said the key to success is as simple as just having the right mindset entering the game.

“We know we might not feel as good as we would on a normal night,” he said. “So we try to make good percentage plays, get the pucks to the net, play a simple game ... maybe be a little smarter with changes.”

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