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Pens committed to converting chances

by Michelle Crechiolo @PensInsideScoop / Penguins Team Reporter

Here in the third round of the Stanley Cup playoffs, Jake Guentzel isn't scoring at the same torrid pace he did in the first two rounds - where he had nine goals in 12 games. But it certainly isn't for lack of trying.

Guentzel has been snakebitten so far in the Eastern Conference Final against Ottawa, as he's hit a number of posts and created some terrific chances. But the rookie forward isn't getting frustrated just yet.

"I feel like I've had some Grade-A's," Guentzel said. "Couple pipes, a couple just missed nets. You take it as a positive you're getting chances, but you just got to try to find a way to put those in.

"You would think if you're getting those chances (the goals) are going to come, so you just got to stay on the net and find those soft areas. Hopefully one will come and the floodgates will open."

That was the sentiment echoed around the Pens locker room following their practice at the University of Ottawa on Thursday, particularly among the team's offensive leaders like Guentzel, Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.

The Pens have just three goals in the first three games against Ottawa, a team known for their sound defensive structure, with their only win coming in a 1-0 shutout victory in Game 2.

But the Pens have liked a lot about their play in the offensive zone. They've had a ton of time down there and have created a lot. At this point, Crosby said, it's just about execution.

"I think the chances have been there," he continued. "We've hit some posts and had some good looks, so I think just make sure that we're hungry. I think when it's not going in for you, you've just got to keep it simple and make sure you keep getting pucks to the net, keep getting guys there and make sure we're competing in and around the net."

The coach agreed with his captain, adding that they need to bear down and dig deep in getting those chances to find the back of the net.

"I think we're generating scoring chances. The next step is to convert," Mike Sullivan said. "We've hit a fair amount of posts here in this series so far. I'd like to believe that some of those will go in the net moving forward. But I also think that it's also been a tight checking series on both sides. We just have to dig down.

"I think we've got to have another level of conviction and commitment and urgency to our game, making sure that we're getting to the netfront more often. I think we can do a better job at making the sightlines for our opponent's goalie more difficult and a lot of the common-sense hockey strategies that most coaches are preaching to their teams. We just have to bring another level of commitment to our game."

And Crosby, Malkin and Phil Kessel, who have been Pittsburgh's only goal scorers in this third round, know that starts with them. While depth scoring is important, they understand they are the leaders in that regard and bear a burden of responsibility to get the offense going.   

"I think me, Sid, Phil, we always feel pressure every game," Malkin said. "We like that. It's our lives, our hockey lives. We come to the rink, we work every practice to score and to help the team to win. We understand it's a tough situation, we lost 2-1, and I think Game 4 tomorrow will be the toughest game tomorrow for us.

"Of course me and Sid, we understand that. We need to be ready tomorrow for sure. We need to play better. Don't listen to the noise. Don't listen to anything. Forget everything. Play how we can. We have a good group, good goalies, good leadership and (we need to) just show our game."

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