The Penguins enjoy being back home.
They like winning even more, though.
Sunday afternoon, they could have the best of both worlds as the New York Rangers visit Mellon Arena at 2 p.m. for Game 5 of their Eastern Conference Semifinal series.
The Penguins hope to rebound from Thursday’s 3-0 loss at Madison Square Garden. It snapped the Penguins’ seven-game playoff winning streak, but left Pittsburgh with a 3-1 series advantage.
“We don’t like losing. That doesn’t change. I think we’re just going to learn from our mistakes and make sure that our effort is a little stronger [Sunday] and we’re a little more desperate,” Penguins captain Sidney Crosby said. “I don’t think we’re thinking about the lead – just about playing well. I don’t think our focus is on what we’ve done; it’s on what we have to do. This is a big game.”
The Penguins are happy to return home. The team has earned a point in 12-straight home games (10-0-2) and in 17 of the last 18 home games (14-1-3). They are 20-2-3 in their last 25 contests at Mellon Arena.
“It’s great. We take a lot of pride in being home. Obviously, we want to make sure we play well,” Crosby said. “As a team, we want to make sure we play strong every game and we take every game seriously, especially being at home, we’re in great position.”
After being blanked on Thursday, the Penguins enjoyed an off day Friday and returned to the ice Saturday at the Iceoplex at Southpointe. They feel energized for Sunday’s battle.
“We’re ready. We need one more and we’re at home,” Penguins winger Pascal Dupuis said. “We want to win this next one and not go back to New York.”
Goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury agrees: “We knew we weren’t going to win them all. We had a good practice and we’ll be ready for [Sunday]. They are fighting for their lives and we want to finish this out, so I am sure it’s going to be a tough game out there. To get that fourth win is the toughest.”
The Penguins will look to get a jolt from their rowdy fans.
“As I said, we take a lot of pride in playing at home,” Crosby said. “We know we get that boost from our fans and we expect the same thing [Sunday].”
Penguins coach Michel Therrien likes the advantage of playing in front of the home crowd.
“The fans have been fantastic. They have been great to us,” he said. “They give us the emotion we need to be successful, especially in the playoffs. Certainly, we’ll need them to be the seventh guy on the ice because I know our young team really feeds off them.”
Center Maxime Talbot did not practice with the team yesterday. Rather, he was on the ice before practice and remains listed as day to day with a foot injury caused from a blocked shot in Game 3.