Head coach Dan Bylsma has implored in his team a simple philosophy in each round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. Every series is a race to four victories.
The Penguins fell behind in that race after dropping a 5-4 decision to the Ottawa Senators at Mellon Arena in Game 1 Wednesday night.
“It’s a race to four. They are up 1-0 right now,” forward Pascal Dupuis
said. “It’s the playoffs. You don’t want to be back in the series, but at the same time we know that if we play the right way for a long period of time I think we are going to win.”
“They didn’t do anything we didn’t expect,” defenseman Brooks Orpik
said. “They played better than we did and they are up 1-0. We move on from it.”
“They were jumping and we weren’t reacting,” winger Chris Kunitz
said. “It’s one game. We let it get away from us. We didn’t get to our game. They beat us to our game. The outcome is losing by a goal.”
We didn’t come in here expecting to win four straight. It’s going to be a tough series. If anything, last game should motivate us even more. We hadn’t played Ottawa for a long time. We have a history with them in the playoffs, and I don’t think that the element of not liking them was really there enough because of the long period that it has been since we played them. That’s definitely there now - Sidney Crosby
The Penguins have an opportunity to even the series up when they take the ice Friday night in Game 2. Pittsburgh, historically, is 21-5 all-time at home in Game 2s. And the Penguins haven’t lost back-to-back games in regulation since Jan. 2-3.
The Penguins will certainly be a more focused group when the puck drops Friday at 7 p.m.
“We just need to want it more,” Dupuis said. “The way we played the first game wasn’t the way we wanted to start the series. Now a little slap in the face will wake us up a bit.”
“I think that’s the willingness to go and do the right things to find a way to win,” center Jordan Staal
said. “That is sticking to the plan and knowing the right way to play. We have to find the players in here to do it. … I think we had a great practice (Thursday) and a good meeting before. It is time for us to take ownership and do things the right way.”
“We have to get to our game a little bit more – our game, speed and forechecking,” said captain Sidney Crosby
, who had three assists in Game 1. “We know what things we have to change are, and we have to get to our game a little bit more to put more pressure on them.”
Despite the loss, there were several positives that Bylsma and the coaching staff took from the game, including the power play (which went 2 for 5) and the team’s strong play during stretches of the contest.
“We had the momentum going in our way. There were bits and pieces that were evident of how we need to play and will play,” Bylsma said. “We have to be ready to play against a team that is going to play good defensively. Our execution and mentality has to be more consistent with getting pucks north and fast and quick to the offensive zone and making it tough for them to have to go back. We did not do that enough. We did that at times in the second period and got six scoring chances as a result of that. We need to be more ready and more apt to do that with our execution.”
The Penguins have been a resilient group under Bylsma’s leadership. They have proven to be mentally tough in the past, and one thing that they’ve always been able to do is respond after a tough loss.
“If (the Senators) beating us in our building in Game 1 – that hatred and that desperation better be enough right now to bring to Game 2 and be ready to get to our game,” Bylsma said. “If we didn’t have it, we should have it right now with the way that we played and the way that they played against us.”
“Individually we have to realize that we’re in the playoffs,” Dupuis said. “We were the Stanley Cup champs from last year but this is a new quest. We just need to want it again.”
Crosby put the series into proper perspective:
“We didn’t come in here expecting to win four straight. It’s going to be a tough series. If anything, last game should motivate us even more. We hadn’t played Ottawa for a long time. We have a history with them in the playoffs, and I don’t think that the element of not liking them was really there enough because of the long period that it has been since we played them. That’s definitely there now.”