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May 26, 2016

Mike Sullivan

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: Game Seven

Q. Mike, does the experience of facing elimination in Game 6 help at all with this group for tonight's game?
COACH SULLIVAN: Well, it's a similar circumstance, right? So I think the response we had for Game 6 has to be the same response we have for Game 7.
You know, our guys are well aware of the effort that it takes, the determination that it takes to win these types of games. We have a lot of experience in our dressing room, and we can draw on all those experiences to bring to our game tonight.

Q. Mike, we've seen with this franchise Game 7, sometimes positively or negatively, they turn on the first shift, first minute of Game 7. I'm wondering if as a coach you've seen that even more pronounced in Game 7, where something will happen early and it's hard for the other team to get it turned around.
COACH SULLIVAN: That really hasn't been my experience. I think every situation is different. It's very difficult, in my opinion, to try to throw any sort of a blanket opinion around these types of games based on history. These are completely new teams, new coaches, new situations. I mean, we faced that all year long with our team.
We're looking at this like a great opportunity for us to continue to go on this journey that we've so enjoyed the last few months. So I think our guys are excited to play. They understand what it takes in order to have success and how difficult these games are, and I think we're prepared for it.

Q. Mike, can you preach this game as kind of another game for your team, or do you embrace the moment of it being a Game 7 with your message to them for the game tonight?
COACH SULLIVAN: I think we have to embrace the moment. It's a great challenge. It's a great opportunity. These are the types of games that you grow up, I think, dreaming to play in, to be a part of. This is why we train so hard all season long, and we bring that all to bear tonight.
So I think our guys are excited to play. It's a great opportunity for each and every one of us to be a part of it.

Q. Mike, Conor had the primary assist on Kris' goal in Game 6. How do you assess his play overall coming off the scratch in Game 5?
COACH SULLIVAN: I thought he was real good. I thought he had much more jump. You know, maybe a day or two of a rest might have helped Conor a little bit, but I thought he was quicker on pucks. I thought he had better decisions. I thought his overall game was much better.

Q. Mike, you talked a lot about how Matt Murray has been poised and confident. Do you expect any different kind of mental part with the fact it's Game 7 and he's 22 and never been there?
COACH SULLIVAN: No, I think you'll get the same from Matt. That's how we've come to know him. That's how he is. He takes each game as it comes, and he controls what he can. He's a great competitor. He's got a great makeup. You know, I believe he's going to continue to do what he's done for us this whole postseason.

Q. You've had some personnel decisions that we've asked you about incessantly throughout the playoffs, goaltending and other things. Not having those types of decisions hanging over you right now, does that make your preparation as a coach any simpler going into Game 7?
COACH SULLIVAN: I don't know if it makes it any simpler. I think part of our job is we make those decisions on a game-by-game basis. We do it all year long. So it's just part of our responsibility as the coaching staff and me as the head coach.
Certainly, we're pleased with the lineup that we have right now, and we think the guys that are in our lineup and are going on the ice give us the best chance to win. We believed in this group for a long time, and I think they've got -- there's a great chemistry in our room. I think they can draw on that. They play hard for one another, and that's an important dynamic to have at this time of year.

Q. Coach, even after you guys clinched a spot, you still battled for home ice to have the right to play this game in front of your fans. How great have they been all year for you guys and how much are you looking forward to having the contest in front of them?
COACH SULLIVAN: I think the fans in this city are tremendous. They're so supportive. I know the players have so much appreciation for the support that they give them. I know this building is going to be electric tonight. We look at it as almost a man advantage for us. They've been so supportive through this whole process, and our players and our management team and the coaches are so appreciative for what they bring to our team, and this is why we work as hard as we do all year for this home ice advantage.

Q. Coach, without telling us what your message to the team will be, is it something that you prepare, or is it something that you walk in that room before the game that just kind of comes from the heart?
COACH SULLIVAN: I think a lot in these moments, it comes from the heart. Certainly, I'm not sure at this point that a whole lot needs to be said. I think a whole lot has been said, and for us, it's about just embracing the moment and going out there and owning your own game and bringing everything to the table that you can to help the team win.
It's such a great feeling to be part of something that's bigger than yourself, and these are the types of circumstances that, I think, epitomize that. And I think our team has become that over the last four or five months.
So I'm excited to watch our group play tonight. I know we're going to be excited to play and we're going to play extremely hard.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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