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May 21, 2016

Matt Cullen

Brian Dumoulin

Mike Sullivan

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: Practice Day

Q. Just how important is it to get back and to kind of regain momentum here?
MATT CULLEN: Yeah, it wasn't a good game for us. We're not happy how things went. I think during the playoffs, we've been a really resilient group. We've responded to all different kinds of adversities. I expect it to be the same.

Q. Tampa wanted to be --
MATT CULLEN: Yeah, I don't know. I don't really know. But I do know we didn't play the game we wanted to. And we don't mind the skating game. I mean, that plays to how we want to play. But I think we were in the penalty box a little bit too much, and I think, when you involve too much special teams, it takes away from our four-line, get up and down the ice, attack mentality and our style of play. So we weren't able to get to that as quickly and as often as we would have liked.

Q. Did it seem like they were trying to maybe get you guys to lose your composure a little bit?
MATT CULLEN: Yeah, that's the playoffs. Everybody is trying to do that to the other side. There's no real secret there. We're getting into the middle of the series, and you get a little bit more of a dislike for the other side.

Q. What do you see from Geno's game right now? What would you like to see from his game?
MATT CULLEN: I mean, he's playing really well, honestly. I know he wants to make an impact on every game. Last night I know he scored the goal. There's not a lot of guys that can do that with his big body and his skill set. I expect him to get better as the series goes on. You know, he's a guy that can take over a game, and I've seen him take over series from the other side. So I think he's going to continue to get better and better.

Q. What has Trevor brought to the team since he joined in mid-December?
MATT CULLEN: He's been so good for us. He's -- I guess, when he got here, I didn't realize how good he was. I've always thought he was a really good player, playing against him. But what he's brought to this team has been awesome. He's a great teammate. He's a great leader. He skates well. He's done everything for us. I mean, everywhere on special teams, five-on-five, he's been great for us, and I think all the young guys would say the same. He's been a great leader. I can't say enough about him.

Q. Did that third period mean anything, what you guys did, or does that not carry over?
MATT CULLEN: Well, I guess -- you know, we know we can play like that. We know we can play better than that. We know we need to have that from the first drop of the puck. So it's all behind us now. We know the way we need to play at this point. We know we didn't play that way the first half of the game, and that's what cost us.

Q. How much (inaudible) when best of three, you guys are going back to home ice? (Inaudible)?
MATT CULLEN: Yeah, it's nice to go home. We fought hard this year to get it. (Inaudible).

Q. Injuries are obviously hard. Is it tough to lose, if you do, Trevor at all at this point? Is it a huge void?
BRIAN DUMOULIN: Yeah, he's an important part of our defense core. He's been there, been playing real well for us ever since he got here. He's a leader in the locker room. He's a leader out there on the ice. He's definitely a very important person that we want on the ice, but that's part of the game. Injuries are going to happen. So we've got to find a way to battle through it and turn it into a positive.

Q. This is the first time you guys have been this deep in the series and tied so far in this postseason. What's different or how does it feel different compared to maybe the Washington or New York series?
BRIAN DUMOULIN: Yeah, we've really got to focus on coming back home and winning a hockey game. Like I said, we're tied, and they're a good team too. They're going to push back, and we know that. I mean, getting this game up is very crucial, and it's important for us to have our best game.

Q. Is this where home ice gives you an advantage, winning two out of potentially three games?
BRIAN DUMOULIN: I mean, I think so. That's why we wanted to have a really good regular season so we could put ourselves in a position to have home ice throughout the playoffs. We feel that benefits us, but like I said, if we don't bring our best game, that won't matter much.

Q. You've been Kris' primary defense partner for five games now. Five games into it, how does it feel? Or what's your observations on the pairing?
BRIAN DUMOULIN: Kris is a great player to play with. He's so good offensively and just good defensively. He plays in all situations, and it's fun being out there with him. When I'm out there with him, I try to give him the puck as much as possible because he always does good things with it. So it's been fun so far.

Q. Any update on Trevor?
COACH SULLIVAN: Nothing since last night. He's going to be evaluated when we go back to Pittsburgh today.

Q. It ought to be encouraging that he didn't have to walk out on crutches?
COACH SULLIVAN: No, it's not encouraging.

Q. If Olli Maatta has to step in after the games he's been scratched here, can they serve as a reset point for him?
COACH SULLIVAN: I think so. Olli is a real good player. He's played in key situations for us all year. He's been a top four defenseman for us for most of the year. We believe in him. We've got a lot of confidence in him. We know, when you go this deep in the playoffs, you need your whole team, in the true sense of the word, to have success.
So we're fortunate to have the depth that we have at that position, and if we have to put somebody into the lineup, someone like Olli can help us win, we know that.

Q. What would you like to see from Geno moving forward in his game?
COACH SULLIVAN: Maybe just play more of a north-south game. I thought -- obviously, he gets a nice goal for us last night. I thought his line at times had pretty good momentum. He's such a difficult player to handle offensively with his size and his speed. When he plays that north-south game, I think -- and he forces defensemen to have to turn and defend him, I think he's really hard to handle.
We believe that's when he's at his best. So that's what we're encouraging more of him moving forward.

Q. Hedman was asked last night, which line of the team is going to show up, Game 3 or Game 4? He said, that's the question. Maybe it's the same question for you guys, but is momentum elusive in any playoff series when the ebb and flow is more shift to shift than game to game than anything?
COACH SULLIVAN: Yeah, I think, when you get this far in the playoffs, every team is really good. So it's hard to control all the games and all the situations in the games. These are two good teams going at it. They have good players. At times they have momentum. At times we have momentum.
We really like a lot about our game and about our team in this series. So we just have to make sure that we understand how we have to play, and I think our team has a clear understanding of that. Our guys, they know the formula. They know what works for us, and when we go out and we execute, we play with determination, we believe we can beat anybody.

Q. Do you know who's in goal for Game 5?
COACH SULLIVAN: That will be a decision we make tomorrow.

Q. The good way that Fleury played in the third period, at least, did that give you -- I mean, he hadn't played in maybe 50 days, but did that give you at least something to think about?
COACH SULLIVAN: Well, it's an opportunity for him to get some game action, and that was one of the reasons why we made the decision to put him in.
Marc's been a big part of this team all year. He's really helped this team get to the position that it's at with the way he's played all season. The timing of his injury down the stretch was unfortunate. It's not a perfect circumstance, but that's -- I think that's the nature of the business we're in, and we just try to make the best decisions and make the most of the position we're in.

Q. Is that a good problem to have to make that decision?
COACH SULLIVAN: Like I said all along, we feel we have real quality goaltenders. We've got three guys that have helped us win all year. Marc's a real good goalie. Matt's played extremely well for us, making timely saves. He did it again last night. So it's a nice problem to have when you have that quality of goaltenders.

Q. Was the change last night more based on Marc and also the way your team was playing than on Matt, the way Matt was playing?
COACH SULLIVAN: Oh, yeah, without a doubt. We thought Matt made some big saves. The goals they scored, they were high quality chances. They would have been tough saves. So it's an opportunity to get Marc some game action. Sometimes, when you make that type of a decision as a coach, it has an impact on the group in front of the goaltender. So I thought we had a strong portion in the third period, but when you're in a four-goal deficit, it's tough to crawl back into that one.

Q. He was fine after that weird collision at the end of the first period, right?

Q. (No microphone).
COACH SULLIVAN: He's a tough guy to replace. He's a real good player. He's really helped change our team since he's come to join our team. He's a mobile guy. He's got great offensive instincts. He helps us get out of our end zone. He's a very good player. He's not an easy guy to replace, but we've dealt with that all year. We've had a lot of guys go down, key guys, for long stretches of time.
What I love about this group is their resilience, that they find ways to have success when someone else steps up.

Q. What's been your assessment of Kris and Brian in the five games they've been paired together primarily?
COACH SULLIVAN: I think they've done a really nice job. They're primarily paired against the top players. They've done a real good job, in our estimation, for the first part of this series. We'll see how it goes moving forward.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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