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Pens focus on finishing series vs. Ottawa

by Nicole Jelinek @Penguins / Pittsburgh Penguins

The Pittsburgh Penguins were dominant in Sunday afternoon's 7-0 Game 5 victory over the Ottawa Senators.

The Pens now hold a 3-2 lead in the series, which gives them their first opportunity to eliminate the Senators and potentially claim the Eastern Conference title and repeat history in another Stanley Cup Final run.

That is something a lot easier said than done.

Despite their lopsided victory in Game 5, the Pens know that kind of dominance two games in a row is rare and see Tuesday's matchup at Canadian Tire Centre as a clean slate.

"A win is a win, it doesn't matter what the score is," captain Sidney Crosby explained. "It is about how you play the next game. I think we expect a desperate group and I think you don't get to the Eastern Conference Final without that ability to bounce back, so we know (Tuesday) night is probably going to be their best game and it has to be our best as well."

The Penguins' series lead is certainly a plus on their end, but they were in a similar situation to the Senators after they fell short in a 5-1 loss in Game 3. They were able to use desperation to fight back and secure back-to-back victories in Games 4 and 5.

Staying hungry and on their toes the second the puck drops in Tuesday's contest will be huge after their successful start in Game 5.  

"I think that is going to be key tomorrow," Carl Hagelin said about finding their game early. "They are going to come out with a vengeance. They are going to play a good game. Anytime you lose badly like they did, you know that team is going to respond. We have to match their intensity."

The opportunity to eliminate is in front of them and will be as much of a challenge for the Pens as it is for the Senators to survive-something Pittsburgh knows well and has pushed through in the past, but most recently in their last series with the Washington Capitals.

The Pens had the chance to close the series in Games 5 and 6, but lost both contests setting up a winner-take-all Game 7. The Pens would prevail, 2-0, in that game.

"I think it is a challenge to close out a series whether you are at home or on the road," goalie Matt Murray said. "It is a team with their backs against the wall, so they are going to bring their best. We need to be prepared for that. It is going to be a fun environment to play in. All of the fans will be excited about it, but like I said we don't need to worry about any of that. We just need to worry about taking care of our business and playing our game."

The Penguins have showed resilience in their play and know the importance of trying to finish out the series.

"It is an important aspect to win games, especially at this time of year," head coach Mike Sullivan said. "I think the essence of the game is rooted in emotion, passion and hunger and a will to win. That is what makes our game as great as it is, I think. At this time of year, I think it is critically important that we have that determination and play with that necessary conviction in order to give ourselves the best chance to win."

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