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Pens cleaning slate from Game 1 setback

by Sam Kasan @PensInsideScoop / Pittsburgh Penguins

UNIONDALE, New York - The Pens suffered a heartbreaking 4-3 overtime loss in Game 1 of their First Round showdown with the New York Islanders Wednesday night at NYCB Live. 

Despite the setback, Pittsburgh's focus hasn't changed heading into Friday's Game 2 contest. 

"These games are going to be close. They're going to be tight the entire series," captain Sidney Crosby said. "We did some good things. We didn't find a way when it was a tie game to build and get a lead. It ended up costing us.

"You have to learn from it regardless of the outcome. You have to learn from every game and get better with every game. We'll learn from this one and make sure we're better in Game 2."

The playoffs can take their toll on a team's psyche as much as its body. Navigating the emotional highs and lows is perhaps the biggest challenge in the postseason. 

"It's Game 1," defenseman Olli Maatta said. "We gotta regroup. Come back here Friday and go get it."

The Pens are a battle-tested group. The team has gone from First Round exits (2015) to back-to-back Stanley Cup championships (2016, '17) and everything in between. This team has seen and been through it all. 

"Experience helps. There's no question," head coach Mike Sullivan said. "Our group has a significant amount of experience to draw on." 

Defenseman Justin Schultz, who tied the Game 1 with 1:29 remaining in regulation, knows firsthand the importance of moving on quickly from a game. 

"All the guys have been here before," Schultz said. "We know it's a long series and we can't hang our head on each game or each play. We just have to move on and worry about the next shift."

The Pens are disappointed in the outcome from Game 1. But the contest did go into overtime. The result could have gone either way. 

"It was a hard-fought game. It wasn't perfect out there by any stretch, but I thought we played hard," Sullivan said. "I thought we had good moments in the game where we were playing really well. There were moments of the game where I thought we could be better in certain areas. We'll look at the film. We'll see what we can learn from it. We'll bring it to our players and we'll get ready for Game 2."

Part of dealing with the playoffs is having a short memory. Whether you win or lose a game, it's always a tabula rasa for the next contest. And that will be the Pens' mentality when the puck drops on Friday night. 

"We're a forward-thinking group. We're not going to dwell on the past," Sullivan said. "We're trying to earn our way in the present. 

"We're trying to take each day as it comes and do everything we can to have success on that given day." 

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