The Pittsburgh Penguins defeated the Washington Capitals in three straight games over four days to flip an 0-2 series deficit into a 3-2 lead, and are one victory shy of advancing to the Eastern Conference Finals. Their first opportunity will occur in Game 6 Monday night at Mellon Arena, where the team is 4-1 this postseason.
“When you get down 2-0, that fear of not winning the series and moving on is there,” head coach Dan Bylsma said. “We had the desperation in our game that we needed. Now we put ourselves in a situation to move on. The guys in that room know exactly what’s at stake and what we have in front of us for Game 6."
“We have a good opportunity going home,” captain Sidney Crosby
said. “We realize all the games have been close. It will take a big effort but we have that opportunity. I don’t think we need to change a whole lot.”
The Capitals are on the brink of elimination. Washington overcame a 3-1 series deficit against the New York Rangers to advance to the second round. So the Capitals know how to play desperate hockey and elevate their game when their backs are against the wall. However, the Penguins are ready for the challenge.
“We expect a team that is desperate as well,” Bylsma said. “I don’t think there’s going to be a let down. We know we’re facing a team that’s good and dangerous, that’s going to give it everything they’ve got. It’s going to require everything we got to get that fourth win. We know what’s ahead of us.”
The Penguins have won four playoff series over the past two seasons and that experience has helped the team develop a strong killer instinct.
“They are drawing upon their experience,” Bylsma said. “I think it is a factor. I think you see that from our leaders and younger players that seem to have a resolve about situations we get into. I think experience does help … It doesn’t mean we’ve won anything yet. It doesn’t mean we’ve won this series. We still have a long way to go. We still need to get the fourth win here.”
The Penguins will try to match the Capitals’ desperation in the hopes of ending the series Monday night and avoiding a possible Game 7 in Washington.
“Everyone is desperate at this time of year,” defenseman Brooks Orpik
said. “We were up 3-1 on Philly in the last series and if it wasn’t for a good comeback in (Game 6) it was going to a seventh game. It’s either you win or your season’s over so (Washington is) going to give you everything they can give you. Against a team like that, you want to put them away as quick as possible. You don’t want to let them stick around.”