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May 18, 2016

Jon Cooper

Tampa, Florida: Game Three

Pittsburgh – 4
Tampa – 2

Q. I think you said yesterday you guys need to play much better to beat these guys and you hadn't put your best foot forward yet. What's your concern that you haven't done that yet in three games?
COACH COOPER: They're a pretty good team. You're playing against somebody else that's not dictating the pace all the time, but it was a -- I kind of didn't mind our start. I didn't mind our first. We had a chance to score. We didn't. I didn't think there was a whole ton going either way, and even the first half of the second period wasn't too bad.
I didn't think anybody was really dictating the pace of the play. Then we kind of got stuck in our zone. We iced it, and we kind of got stuck in there for a while, and the last ten minutes took a lot of wind out of our sails. But we're ten seconds from getting out of it and then starting back up again. It was obviously a tough one to give up with ten seconds left.
And then it was tough. You give up that second one, and now you're really chasing it. So just got to be better. That's it.

Q. Coop, what was your message after the game to the locker room? What did you say to these guys?
COACH COOPER: Well, I mean, the message would have been a lot different if this was a best of three, but it's actually a best of seven. We've been in three playoffs together, and we've been every different way -- up two, down two, up 2-1, down 2-1 -- nothing we've seen before. When you're playing in the playoffs, you have to have a really short memory regardless if you're playing well or not. That's it.
Turn the page tonight, and tomorrow's a new day. Sun's coming up, I think. And we'll be ready to go tomorrow.

Q. Coach, you reunited the triplets line in the third period. Johnson gets a goal. Palat gets a goal late. Regardless of the result, was it good to get those guys warmed up, back together, to get them back on the scoring sheet?
COACH COOPER: Yeah, those guys, they've played so well together for so long. It's -- but Killorn's played really well there as well. You know, you've watched us in the playoffs, and we've made adjustments and changed things up, and going into the third, we thought that was something that would help us. Eventually, they got both our goals tonight.
But it's -- you need more production than just the same guys each night. When we're doing well, we're getting production from everybody. That's kind of what you -- you know, you just can't rely on the same bunch of guys the whole time. So those guys will be together again. Sometimes they will. Sometimes they won't. But they did a good job for us tonight.

Q. Coop, Vasi faced nearly 50 shots. Can you talk about the job he did tonight.
COACH COOPER: He was unreal tonight. What's obviously upsetting is -- what did we give up, 41 the other night? We were on the road, and they were desperate. But it's extremely disappointing to give up 48 shots in your home building in a playoff game. That's unacceptable. So I just feel bad for the kid that he's keeping us in there and we're not finding a way to bail him out.
The way things have gone these two games, it doesn't matter who's in net. You know, we could have Bish and Vasi both playing at the same time, and they might have squeaked a couple in. So we have to be better as a group in front of him. He was probably the obvious bright spark in tonight's game.

Q. Jon, you talked about that puck management coming into this game. Is that the disappointing part is that you had 40-plus shots these last two games, and is that the one thing that really has to be limited if you're going to come back in this?
COACH COOPER: Well, yeah, you don't have a good chance of winning if you don't have the puck. It's something that we've been pretty good at in the last couple years, and when they've got the puck more than us, now you're chasing a little bit. As I said, that one time for ten minutes, it was a long stretch, and we got kind of stuck in our zone.
But the volume of shots we're giving up and some of the chances we're giving up are just way too many. We've gone through multiple playoff games, and we don't give this up in, gosh, two or three games combined. And so that's a five-guys-on-the-ice issue, and that's what we just -- we've got to tighten up. Now we've played them a couple times, and we'll make some adjustments and go from there.

Q. Conventional wisdom for teams defending the Penguins is you have to focus on the Crosby and Malkin lines. Has the production from that Bonino line changed that from your perspective at all? Like do you have to focus on them a little bit?
COACH COOPER: I think, like when you look at their team, Phil Kessel probably doesn't get near the respect he deserves. I mean, he's scored a ton of goals in this league. Bonino's kind of one of those underrated players that he's always playing with Getzlaf and Perry. You look at the teams he's playing, and there's always been named stars ahead of him. He's a heck of a player.
Hagelin's won everywhere he's gone, the teams he's played on. But they get overshadowed by the big name guys.
But they're a deep team, and those guys have found some chemistry together, and as Corey was saying, you just can't depend -- if you're going to make a run in the playoffs, you just can't -- you can depend on a few games from some guys, but you've got to start getting scoring from your entire lineup, and they found a way to get some. You know, Cullen's got one, and that's where we've got to be a little bit better.

Q. Does their speed present any problems unique to tonight? It seemed like a couple of goals their guys just kind of darted in quick little areas?
COACH COOPER: Yeah, a couple of missed assignments. We clearly missed one on that first goal. Hagelin never should have been as open as he was. So we definitely had some issues there. But we're a quick team as well. So you're going speed on speed. But they've got a lot of it, and it's -- regardless of how much speed you have, it poses a problem both ways. We just haven't handled it the way -- as well as we should have.

Q. Speed is obviously mentioned quite a bit in this series, but you just mentioned quickness. How quick have they been to kind of get on pucks and they get in your face when you have the puck and kind of force some of the turnovers that you've been having?
COACH COOPER: Well, you've watched for two games now, and I thought Game 1 we were finding open areas and creating space for ourselves. We just haven't done that as well in Games 2 and 3. Is that some of us? Yes. But is that some of their pressure? There's no question.
I've said it before. You don't fluke your way to the Final Four. They've got a heck of a team over there. They put their skates on one at a time just like we do. We've been here before, and, again, we've been in these situations before. Now it just puts a little pressure on us to win Game 4.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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