ON BATTLING FOR HOME ICE
Malkin: "I think it's a huge game for us in Columbus. Probably home-ice advantage and if we win we start at home. We understand it's an important game. We want to start at home. They're a tough team. But I think we're fine. We're ready for playoffs. We're ready to play against any team. Great team (Thursday) and we're ready to play."
Hornqvist: "Home ice is going to be on the line in that game and that's going to be huge. Looking back to our playoff runs lately every time you have home ice it feels like you have an advantage. It's going to be a key game for us."
Dumoulin: "It's a big deal, you look at our track record throughout this year and years past, we've been good on home ice and that's where we're comfortable. Obviously if we have win on the road we've shown we can do that but home ice is important, obviously this upcoming game with Columbus is important for that."
Hagelin: "You want home ice, you want your fans to help you win series, that's what it comes down to. We have a lot of confidence playing at home, we love our fans, they love us, they give us a boost at home. We're focused on winning the game tonight."
Rust: "We feed off our home crowd well. We take that energy and use that to our ability, there's a certain sense of comfort playing at home. Guys will have a little bit more confidence. I don't know why that isn't there as consistently on the road but we'd like to find that."
ON THE MATCHUP
Sullivan: "They're playing extremely well right now. Their record is an indication of that. We know it's going to be a big challenge. They're a good team. We've got to be ready. Our message is to embrace the challenge. Let's get excited about it, let's play the game the way we're capable and embrace every moment that we have out there. I think when you play in these types of games, this is the most exciting hockey to be a part of. I think it's a whole lot of fun. I think our guys are excited."
Dumoulin: "They know pretty much everything about us and we know a lot about them. Just from playing them so much in years past, the coaches know each other pretty well and know what kind of systems they like to run. It's going to be a simple game, we're not going to expect anything different from them and they aren't from us. It's going to be who wants it more and a fun atmosphere to play in."
Maatta: "They're a skilled team, I think they're playing really well. They have a lot of confidence. Lately they've been really successful. So I think for us, it's a couple of things. We have to defend better than we did against Washington. I don't think we played necessarily a bad game, but I think we just got to fix a couple of things defensively and we should be okay."
Hagelin: "We want to beat Columbus, that's our mindset. We have two games until the playoff starts and we want to end on the right note."
Sheary: "I think it's especially important on the road to have a good start. If we can have the first 10 minutes or so go our way and get some momentum off that and take their crowd out of it, I think that'll go a long way for the game."
ON EXPECTING A PLAYOFF ATMOSPHERE
Crosby: "It'll be a playoff atmosphere; the two teams have played some pretty intense games over the years. With the importance of the game and the fact that we've been pretty closely matched all year, it could be very similar to the Washington game we had the other night."
Dumoulin: "We know it's important. We've seen in the past, it's going to be a fun and exciting building to be playing in. This is the time of year you want to be playing these meaningful games. It's going to be a fun game to play in and for those guys in the locker room that haven't played in the playoffs, that's going to be the closest thing to it."
Rust: "It's definitely going to basically be a playoff game. Right now us two and a couple other teams are jockeying for positions and that's something we have to keep in mind going in there, is that we want to get the best possible position and we have to play well."
Sheary: "We've been talking about how it might be a playoff-type feel, just these two points are really important for both teams. I think if we can get this one we have a good chance of getting home ice for the first round at least, so we're definitely approaching it that way tonight."
Guentzel: "It's going to be a really big game in a hostile environment. We have to be really good, the next four points are huge, we have to start with tonight for sure."
ON FACING IAN COLE
Crosby: "It'll be a little weird, just knowing 'Colesy' and knowing who he is I'm sure he'll be blocking shots and trying to his regular thing out there and he's a tough guy to compete against. Anybody who goes out there, you'll know when he's on the ice."
Hornqvist: "It'll be fun, he likes to block shots, get in your face and in front of the goalie. I'll probably spend a lot of time with him and I can't wait."
Dumoulin: "Obviously 'Coler' knows this locker room pretty well. When he's with a different team we wish him all the best but when he's playing us he's the enemy. Everyone knows him really well, he was a pretty liked guy in the room, I don't think there'll be really any beef at all out there. He's a competitive guy and we have some competitive guys on our team, it'll be fun and I think it will add to it a little more out there."
Maatta: "Obviously he was a good friend and a big part of the team. Guys loved him inside the room. So it's going to be kind of weird to see him wearing a Blue Jackets jersey, for sure, but it's going to be pretty exciting, too."
Sheahan: "He's a great guy, a good friend, helped me mesh my way here into Pittsburgh. There may be a little (joking around). Both teams are going to be on edge and wanting to get a win. We're going to have to wait for the jokes until after the game and enjoy it while we play."
ON WHEN THE TEAM STARTED TO CLICK
Crosby: "Probably the new year. We started to find some consistency, that urgency that we needed, just that compete level you need to win every night and paying attention to details. For at least the month of January, we were able to do that and we built off that pretty well. But it's tough, you string together wins like we did and you don't really move that much, so our division's pretty tight."
Hornqvist: "After the new year. I know we won against Philly that first game and then we came back here and lost to Carolina, then we won against the Islanders. I think the Islanders game was really key for us, it was a back-to-back, bad travel. We had to stay over here in Pittsburgh and fly into another airport then come there and get two big points. Then we got those breaks. Since then I think we've been playing good hockey and we've been improving every game, that's the key this season."