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May 24, 2016

Mike Sullivan

Tampa, Florida: Game Six

Pittsburgh – 5
Tampa Bay – 2

Q. Coach, you talked a lot of times about Matt Murray and his calm demeanor. I wonder if you could sort of reflect on that given the circumstances of this third period where it became a 3-2 game, he had given up two goals, and your season's on the line, and he kept you guys in front.
COACH SULLIVAN: I think that's just part of his DNA. He has a calming influence. He doesn't get rattled. If he lets a goal in, he just continues to compete. That's usually an attribute that takes -- it takes -- usually it takes years to acquire that, and to have it at such a young age is impressive. That's always impressed us about him. Certainly, it's impressed me since I've got to know him and watch him as a goaltender but also as a person.
He's a real hard competitor, and I think one of his biggest strengths is just his ability to stay in the moment and not get overwhelmed by the circumstances surrounding him. He controls what he can. He competes hard, and I think, as I said this morning, I think he has a calming influence on the group.

Q. Mike, what were you saying when Brian gets that goal in the third period, Tampa Bay's pushing there, and members of that line, Brian, Evgeni, or Chris, have all scored goals for you the last three games. What are they giving you beyond just the goal scoring, I guess?
COACH SULLIVAN: Well, they're playing the right way. They're playing hard. They're playing at both ends of the rink. I think our team has really bought into playing away from the puck.
This is a real good team we're playing, especially offensively. They come at you with a lot of skill. They're a dangerous team off the rush, and it takes all five of us out there to play away from the puck and play a stingy defense in order to limit their opportunities.
I think our guys have really bought into it, especially our top guys, you know, the guys -- guys like Sid, Geno, Phil Kessel. They're playing away from the puck. They're playing hard away from the puck. They're competing in loose puck battles, and they're back-checking and tracking pucks from behind. They're stopping in the defensive zone to try to protect the scoring area.
It's hard to win at this time of year if everybody's not playing defense and not buying in like that. And I think, when your top guys, when they lead the charge in that regard, everyone else follows suit. So I tip my hat to those guys. It's a credit to them that they're playing the game as hard as they are but also as smart as they're playing right now.

Q. Coach, your team, I thought, came out of the door flying, and in the first five minutes, I said, wow, this team is determined to get to Game 7. What was your final message to the team before they took the ice?
COACH SULLIVAN: I just told them to embrace the moment. It's a great opportunity for us. These are the types of circumstances where you have an opportunity to write your own story, and that's what we wanted to do. We wanted to -- you know, you can't control -- there's certain things that go on out there that you can't control, but what you can control is your attitude, your determination, your work ethic, your never-say-die mindset.
I think this group has it. I think they believe in one another. I think they sincerely care about each other, and they play hard for one another. I think, when you have that dynamic on a team where not only are they playing with one another, but more importantly, they're playing for each other, that's a pretty neat thing to watch. And we've witnessed this with this group for a couple of months now. You know, they're -- I've said this before, they're a privilege to coach because of how they go about their business each and every day.
And I know that we had a determined group tonight, and they had a certain mindset going into this, that we're going to leave it all out there and do everything we can to try to bring this back to Pittsburgh, and that's what they did. So from their coach, it certainly is rewarding to watch them play as hard as they did tonight.

Q. Mike, part of your story tonight is the successful challenge. Just a couple of things. Who saw it? How sure of it were you? And what do you think it did for your team once it was overturned?
COACH SULLIVAN: I think it was a huge moment in the game. Our video guy saw it. He radioed it to talk, and it was close, but he felt as though it was offside, and it was close enough that we certainly wanted to challenge it. It was a great call by him. It was certainly, I think, a big part of the game. If they get the first goal, it lights up the building, and all of a sudden, momentum gets difficult. So I thought it was a great call by Sauce, and certainly, I think, our team actually got a boost from it because we knew we had dodged a bullet there.

Q. Is there any pause on your part when that does get radioed down? Like it's such a big moment in the game, as you said, that you guys end up getting a boost, but if that counts and it goes the other way, you're without a time-out in a big game going forward and lost all the momentum?


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