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Pens Report: 04.19.17

by Sam Kasan @PensInsideScoop / Pittsburgh Penguins

The Pittsburgh Penguins held practice on Wednesday at UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex. Here's what you need to know from that session… 

*The Pens will host the Blue Jackets in Game 5 at PPG Paints Arena on Thursday night at 7 p.m. Pittsburgh holds a 3-1 series lead in the First Round matchup.

*Pretty full participation from the team at their skate. The only absences of note were winger Phil Kessel and defenseman Trevor Daley.

"We just decided to keep them off the ice today," head coach Mike Sullivan said. "Everybody at this time of year is dealing with bumps and bruises."

*One key talking point among the Pens this postseason is to having a better start in games. Through the first four games of the playoffs, Columbus has been the better team in the first period.

Having a better start for Pittsburgh was once again a key talking point among the team on Wednesday.

"We'd like to get a better start. I think I've said that a couple of times," Sullivan reiterated. "We've got to act on it. It's about being ready from the drop of the puck. It's about the mindset. It's not a wait-and-see approach. We've got to be ready to dictate the terms from the very first puck drop."

*The Pens were disappointed with their play against Columbus in Game 4. In fact, Pittsburgh surrendered double the amount of odd-man rushes against than any previous game of the series.

That fact was a result of poor puck management, poor decision-making and worse execution.

"I know our team is capable of playing a much better, more complete game on both sides of the puck," Sullivan said. "That's where the discussion rested with our group today."

The Pens in the last calendar year have rarely lost back-to-back games. And they're even stronger in the postseason. During last year's Stanley Cup championship run Pittsburgh was 7-1 following losses.

"What I love about our group is that we've shown an ability to respond to adversity," Sullivan said. "(Game 4) wasn't our best game. We know it. Our players know it. We know we're capable of better."

*Sidney Crosby characterized the team's play in front of goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury as "not good enough." Adding: "He's been good. We've got to find a way to limit their chances and odd-man rushes. We can improve in that area."

*The Pens also know the importance of finishing a series when they can. They know the Blue Jackets aren't going to go quietly. Columbus is on life support and the Pens want to cut the cord.

"When you have an opportunity to close out you want to make sure you do it," Crosby said. "We know it's the most difficult game. You could see the desperation in their game. It's an important game." 

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