The Penguins would have preferred to split the opening two games of their second-round series with the Capitals in Washington. But they aren't daunted by the outcome and remain confident heading into Wednesday night’s Game 3 showdown at Mellon Arena.
“The situation is that we’re down 2-0,” head coach Dan Bylsma said. “We’ve done some good things. We’ve had chances to get two-goal leads and let them back in the game. While we’ve done some good things, there are areas we know we can get better at.”
Despite the two losses, Pittsburgh played well enough to win both games. They outshot, out-chanced and out-possessed the Capitals but still fell one-goal short in each contest.
“These two games we’ve played probably good enough to win,” Sidney Crosby
said.” We didn’t (win) but we have that mentality and we are going to do the same thing here at home. We’re going to get some good results. I don’t think a whole lot is going to change. From our point of view, we want to make sure that we fix a few things but we don’t want to change our game a whole lot. That’s the way we want to play as far as forechecking and being physical goes.”
“I think we created a lot of chances,” veteran forward Bill Guerin said. “We have an aggressive way of thinking as we had some good zone time. There are just some things that we have to sort out defensively.”
Pittsburgh has trailed 2-0 in a best-of-seven series eight times in its history and has won three of those series, including twice against Washington (1992 and 1996). The Penguins know that it is a difficult challenge, but the team has already overcome a lot of adversity this season.
Pittsburgh survived a couple rough months when the team fell all the way to the 10th spot in the Eastern Conference standings. The team responded with a remarkable 18-3-4 run to end the season under Bylsma to gain the fourth seed. Then the Penguins found themselves trailing to the Philadelphia Flyers, 3-0, in Game 6 of their opening-round series. Pittsburgh rose to the occasion again and scored the game’s final six goals to eliminate the Flyers.
“We were tested in the Philly series, tested in Game 6 and responded," Bylsma said. "Now we’re tested again. We’re down 2-0. We’re going back home to our building. The good news is that we’re pretty clear on what we need to get better at and what we can focus on. We have a chance to do it going home. Our group has responded at tough times this year. I’m confident we’ll respond in Game 3.”
“Experience is always helping you but it’s not easy,” Sergei Gonchar said. “Going to the playoffs you know it’s not going to be easy. We are pretty focused and we look back at the other games and think, we did a lot of things right. We created a lot of scoring chances, unfortunately they got blocked. Playing back at home hopefully we are going to be able to turn this thing around.”
The Penguins will have a decisive advantage as the series shifts back to Pittsburgh for the next two games.
“(Home ice) is an advantage for us,” Gonchar said. “I cannot say the same for everybody but it seems we are playing well in our house because it seems like (the fans) give us that energy, supporting us and that helps us in the game when we are playing for our fans. It’s important.”
“It’s a big boost coming home fore sure,” Crosby said. “We take a lot of pride in playing well here, so right now you’re going to see a desperate team. We want to make sure that we get this next one, so you’ll see a lot of desperation.”
“You just keep grinding,” Guerin said. “We have faith in our game. We have faith in our system and in the guys in this room. We believe in ourselves. It’s a good feeling to know that we’re going back home and get a couple games there.”Notes:
The Penguins held an optional practice at Southpointe on Tuesday in which six players participated: forwards Eric Godard, Tyler Kennedy
, Miroslav Satan and Pascal Dupuis
, defenseman Philippe Boucher and goaltender Mathieu Garon.>
Bylsma said that Kris Letang
's injury is better than the team originally thought:
"He's still being evaluated. He's much better than we initially thought. He's much better (Tuesday) and it's a question of his strength now." >
Guerin on getting scoring from throughout the lineup"
"You definitely do need it but I think when teams and players start to try and press for it, that’s when it doesn’t come. We just have to focus on playing our game, getting in our system and doing the things that make our team successful. Bottom line, if nobody else scores another goal and Sid has every single goal the rest of the way through, and we win, that’s good."