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Pens Go For Philly Sweep On Thursday

by Joe Sager / Pittsburgh Penguins

(Playoff Coverage)



PHILADELPHIA
One win.

That’s all the Penguins need to reach the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time since they swept the Chicago Blackhawks in 1992.

Still, the Penguins won’t let themselves look past Game 4 against the Flyers on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. at the Wachovia Center.

“Sure, it’s on [everyone’s] mind a bit, but you really can’t afford to look ahead,” Penguins captain Sidney Crosby said. “We’ve learned here in the last couple of series, especially the last one, that the last game is always the toughest one to win. So, I don’t think we can afford to look ahead. We just need to make sure we continue to do the good things that we’ve been doing and hope that we’re rewarded for that.”

The Penguins certainly have been good in the postseason. They own an 11-1 mark and became the fourth team in NHL history to win 11 of their first 12 playoff games in one season. The other teams to accomplish the feat were the 1968 and 1976 Montreal Canadiens and the 1983 Edmonton Oilers.

In addition, the Penguins are attempting to win their first playoff series ever against Philadelphia, which beat Pittsburgh in 1989 (4-3), 1997 (4-1) and 2000 (4-2). The Flyers are attempting to become just the third team in NHL history to win a series after trailing, 3-0. Only the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs and 1975 New York Islanders have done it. The Islanders beat the Penguins in 1975.

The Penguins have dominated Philadelphia in the series, outscoring the Flyers, 12-5, in three games so far. Nevertheless, they expect a fierce battle Thursday night.

“When you get to the playoffs, they’re all tough games. I believe [Tuesday] we got some breaks. The first goal was a break. You need breaks in the playoffs, but if you stick to the plan, if your work ethic is there and you do the right thing and you’re disciplined, most of the time you’re going to get those breaks. But there’s no doubt there’s times we’ve got breaks and it’s helped to win some hockey games,” Penguins coach Michel Therrien said. “But I like the mentality of the players. They’re never satisfied. And for us, nothing changed. You know, we try to concentrate about the way we can play. We try to concentrate about taking one game at a time, and we don’t want to look at the big picture.  It’s [Friday] night. [Tuesday] we're concentrating about that game. Now we won that game, we're in good position. We're pleased with our position right now in the series.  But [Friday] we understand it's a cliche, but it's going to be a tough game to play. They’re going to be desperate. But in the meantime for us, we’re going to focus on what we have to do.”

STAAL UPDATE

Jordan Staal did not practice Wednesday. He was excused to return home to attend his grandfather’s funeral.

“I talked to my parents and I wanted to be there. It’s definitely a difficult situation for myself, especially with the way things are going now. But, there are bigger things than hockey sometimes and I am just glad I can make it home,” Staal said Tuesday. “He watched every single game last year, I think, for all four of us. He was a hockey fan and we were all really close. It’s definitely a tough loss.”

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