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May 13, 2016

Mike Sullivan

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: Game One

Tampa Bay - 3
Pittsburgh - 1

Q. Eric Fehr afterwards was talking about the crucial nature of giving up the first goal to Tampa and how much that helps them set up their defense and be able to trap after getting the early lead. I know it was late in the first period, but did you feel things changed after they got the first goal on the board?
COACH SULLIVAN: I don't know if things changed. Obviously, when you get the first goal, it certainly helps your cause. But our team has done a pretty good job of coming back from goals when we don't get that first goal. So there was a lot of hockey left at that point.
Like I said, we would have liked to have gotten the first goal, but they're a pretty good team too. They're going to try to score as well as we are. So we've got to find a way to just get back to our game.

Q. You had 30-some shots. It's not like you spent a lot of time (indiscernible). What does Tampa do defensively that makes it so difficult to get chances to get those things?
COACH SULLIVAN: They fight hard. They block shots. They've got people in the lanes. They have good support mechanisms built in place when somebody gets beat.
You know, I thought we generated a fair amount of chances. We've got to find a way to convert.

Q. Mike, Ian Cole said that he felt he didn't play well enough in front of Matt. How would you assess the team's play in front of Matt?
COACH SULLIVAN: I agree. I don't think they saw our best today. I know this team has set a high standard for their play. You know, I don't think it was -- I don't think it was our best game, and that's what we need in order to have success at this point in the season.
As I said, we had stretches of some really good things. There are a lot of positives that we can pull out of this. We just have to find a way to, I think -- we've got to do a better job in managing the puck and then being on the right side of certain puck battles. I don't think we gave up a lot of chances, but the quality of the chances that we gave up were high, and for me, that's the lesson learned. That's what we discussed with our players after the game is we've got to make better decisions with the puck in some of the key areas of the rink.
I thought we had opportunities when we had the puck in the high ice and the offensive zone, where we didn't have a lot of ice to play on, where we could have put it down below the goal line and gone back to work.
You know, Tampa has a very good transition game. We knew that going in. So we've got to make sure that we're diligent with our decisions with the puck, and in those 50-50 battles, we've got to stay above people and stay on the right side so we don't allow some of the odd man rushes.
I think, if we cut the quality of the chance down, it gives our team a better chance to win.

Q. Mike, Olli is defeating breaks a handful of times in these playoffs. What are you seeing in his game right now, particularly in his skating? Are there any concerns with it?
COACH SULLIVAN: Obviously, he let's Killorn get behind him on that one, and we would like him not to allow -- not to let him get behind him. So I don't know how else to comment on it. Ideally, we have to have some awareness. Tampa does a good job, when there's any separation from our fore-check, they stretch the ice pretty well.
So our defensemen have to be aware and make sure that we stay on the right side of people. It starts with an awareness, but it goes beyond that to simply getting it done, and I think, in that instance, I think Olli positionally could have been in a better position so he wasn't vulnerable.

Q. Mike, is that typical playoff hockey? Did it get a little more than that at times, the way they were on your defense all night, the hitting?
COACH SULLIVAN: Well, you know, it's playoff hockey. We've been used to this for a couple of months now. Teams try to be physical on our "D," especially Tanger, and our response always has to be our efficiency and our quickness and our speed game and moving the puck and trying to get out of our end zone as efficiently as we can.
I don't think we spent a lot of time there, quite honestly, but as I said, the quality of the chances we gave up were high. For me, we've got to find a way to take the lessons from this game, forget about it, and go get the next game. And that's what we told our guys after the game. That's the most important thing we've got to take out of this.

Q. Kris Letang came back, but how is he and how is Dumoulin? And what did you think of the two hits there?
COACH SULLIVAN: I have not spoken to our medical staff about Brian Dumoulin. Tanger is fine. Played the rest of the game, obviously. As far as the hits, they're hits from behind.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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