On Wednesday, the Penguins struck back.
Now, they hope to pull even.
The Penguins can erase a 2-0 Stanley Cup Final deficit to Detroit in Game 4 Saturday night at Mellon Arena.
Pittsburgh was shut out in the first two games in Detroit, but came home, scored first and held on for a 3-2 triumph in Game 3.
“It was just rewarding for us, knowing that we played more of the right way that we needed to play and got some results from it, because definitely in Game 1 we didn’t play the right way. We didn’t deserve to win,” Penguins captain Sidney Crosby said. “And Game 2, we started to come around a bit, and finally in Game 3 we’re more where we needed to be. But we still have some room to improve, there’s no doubt. We need to keep getting better. We know that they’re a team with a lot of pride and a lot of experience, and they’re not going to accept losing either. So it’s going to be a tough win here [Saturday].”
The key word is “here” as the Penguins have dominated at Mellon Arena the past three months. The Penguins are 9-0 on home ice in the playoffs – a franchise record for consecutive wins in one playoff year. The previous mark of six was set in 1992 as the Penguins won their last six home games of those playoffs en route to the Stanley Cup.
Overall, this Penguins squad has won a franchise-record 17-straight home games and is 18-0-2 in its last 20 home contests. The Penguins’ last home loss came nearly three months ago – Feb. 24 against San Jose in a shootout, 2-1.
In addition, the team’s home sellout streak stands at a franchise-best 65 games. That encompasses the last 13 regular-season games and two playoff dates in 2006-07 as well as 41 regular-season home games and nine playoff battles this year.
“This game is more about protecting home ice and making sure you take care of things here in your own rink. And we’ve been playing well here and we just need to make sure that our focus is on being strong here,” Crosby said. “Up to this point, we’ve played well and we want to make sure we maintain that. So I don’t think [coming back from a 2-0 deficit and possibly taking the series lead in Game 5] is really something we’re thinking about. We’re just making sure we’re strong here.”
The Penguins enjoyed a day away from the rink on Thursday before hitting the ice from practice Friday. Crosby believes that day off benefits the team.
“Yeah, it’s good to clear your mind. More so for your body, more than anything, just to get some rest. And you’re playing every second day, so to get a day off and just basically for your body, just get some time to relax a bit with the grind of the playoffs is always good,” he said. “Having that day off should give us a little bit more jump and a little bit more energy, especially being at home, that’s always nice to have. So, I think for us having that day off is good. We’ll rest and take it and make sure that [Saturday] we’re ready.”
Penguins coach Michel Therrien knows Game 4 is going to be an even tougher matchup than Game 3 and another must-win game.
“It’s the way that you approach every game. You need to have the right attitude. And for us, it’s the same challenge for us [Saturday] that we will have in Game 3. Game 3 we’re saying this is a challenge for us. It was an important game. [Saturday] night we’re in the same position,” he said. “So we’re going to take this as a challenge, as a team, because I like the way we respond to the challenge. And challenge is important. Good athletes like the challenge. They’re at their best when the challenge is there. Good teams, it’s there. They’re capable to bring their game to another level when the challenge is there. We’ve been facing a lot of challenges this year, and I really like the way that we always respond when the challenge is there, because we've got the right attitude when we approach a game with a good challenge.”