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May 22, 2016

Mike Sullivan

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: Game Five

COACH SULLIVAN: I'll just start by saying, I'll spare you guys the suspense, Marc-Andre Fleury is going to play goal tonight. The rest of the lineup is going to be a game time decision.

Q. Mike, what went into the decision about Marc-Andre getting the start?
COACH SULLIVAN: Lots of things went into the decision. I'd rather not elaborate on the details of it, but certainly we had lengthy discussions. It's an important decision for a hockey team. We're trying to make the best decision that's we can, that we think gives our team the best chance to win. And that's the route, or the direction, that we chose to take for this game.

Q. I know your lineup is game time, but if Olli Maatta does get back in, what do you want to see out of him if he does get back in form?
COACH SULLIVAN: Just to keep his game simple, to relax and have fun and play. Olli's been a big part of this team for a long time.
As I said yesterday, he's been a top four defenseman for this team all season long. He's done a terrific job for us. And when he keeps his game simple, I think that's when he's at his best.

Q. I understand you said game time, but is there any update on Trevor Daley's status and how he's doing?
COACH SULLIVAN: Trevor Daley has a broken ankle, and he'll be out for the remainder of the season.

Q. If you -- obviously, respecting the game time decision part of it, Beau Bennett being been out for a long time, I wonder if you can talk about your thought process of getting a guy like that into the lineup, and sort of the pluses and minuses of a guy being out that long and coming into the game?
COACH SULLIVAN: Well, if Beau plays and is in our lineup, he brings a lot of skill. He's a good sized kid. He's strong on the puck. He can really shoot it. But he's a guy that has high end offensive skills. So if we choose to go that route, that's one more guy that we can use in that capacity.
The fact that he's been out for an extended period of time may take him a little bit of time to get his timing. He'll also be a guy that will play on adrenaline, if and when we put him back in the lineup, because of the nature of playoff hockey. And usually when players come back into the lineup coming off injuries, they're excited to be back, and they play with a lot of injury and a lot of adrenaline.

Q. Pretty obvious, but how much are you looking forward to being back at home after two days in Tampa? (Inaudible).
COACH SULLIVAN: We do. We love playing at home. We feel as though we've got a building that's very supportive of our team, has been all year. I know you're guys thoroughly enjoy playing at home in front of this fan base. They're just a terrific group. They're very supportive. And our guys are very appreciative of that, and I think they give our guys a big boost when we play at home.
So we know we'll expect that from the fans, and certainly we would like to have a good start. I think the starts of these games are really important as far as establishing the type of game that you want to play throughout the course of the game, and certainly we want to do our best to grab the momentum right from the drop of the puck.

Q. Coach, everything that Matt went through, only being 21, how understanding was he of this decision when you told him?
COACH SULLIVAN: Matt's great. He's a very composed kid. He's played extremely well for this team, as has Marc, and these guys, their contribution to this team, both of them, Zat included -- all three of those guys are big reasons why this team is where we're at. And it's very difficult to discount any one of their contributions.
So we're fortunate that we have three guys like we have that we can go to to help this team continue to win, and that's how we look at it.
But Matt's terrific. He gets it. He's a mature kid. And if and when he's called upon to go back in the net, he'll go back in the net. That's what he does. He comes to the rink every day. He puts his equipment on, and he plays, and that's one of the things that we love about him.

Q. Mike, injuries are obviously part of this sport, but what does Trevor's loss do on a hockey level and on a human level to your team?
COACH SULLIVAN: Well, he's a tough guy to replace, I've said that all along. He's really made our team a better team. You know, he's a mobile guy. He can move the puck. He's got real good offensive instincts. He's a real solid two-way defenseman, and it's hard to replace those guys, but we've done it all year, and we'll deal it again.
We're fortunate we have the people that we have that we can plug in that can get the job done, and we feel confident in the group that we have.
I told these guys at the start of the playoffs that we're going to need everybody. If we're going to get to our ultimate goal, we're going to need everybody, both in and out of the lineup, in order to accomplish this. So everybody's got to work every day to get their games at the highest level they can possibly keep it so that, when they're tapped on the shoulder, they're ready to help this team win. That's how strongly we feel about this group.
On a personal level, I feel badly for Trevor because I know how important this is to him and what it means to him and what he's brought to this team. You know, it's emotional for him. He's a terrific kid. He's brought a lot to this hockey team.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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