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June 6, 2016

Mike Sullivan

San Jose, California: Game Four

THE MODERATOR: Questions for coach.

Q. Mike, there was a lot made about how good you were all season after leading the first two periods. Twice in the last six games, teams have rallied back against you guys. Is that a reflection of style of play in the playoffs or something you have not been doing with the lead?
COACH SULLIVAN: I think it's just there are good teams, there are good teams left. Both teams are trying to win. Both teams have good players. The margin for error is small.
There's been a lot of one‑goal games. We've had a few instances where teams have come back just with bizarre circumstances. For example, the three pucks over the glass, that's a tough one.
But I still like the way our team's playing. I think we play the game the right way. I still think we play on our toes. We're still on the attack. I don't see us falling into the trap of playing in a defensive shell, which is usually when you allow teams to rally against you.
I've always been a strong believer that the minute your team stops trying to score goals, your mindset changes, and so does your opponent's. We've always been a team that's encouraged our guys to continue to try to score goals when we have a lead. We just have to do it the right way.
Our calculation of risk may change a little bit, but we're still trying to score goals. So I don't think it's anything other than we're playing against good opponents and the games are very tight.

Q. Kris Letang was saying the last game the defensemen maybe played a little too loose. Do you think so?
COACH SULLIVAN: I'm not sure when he means by 'loose'. I think there are areas of our game where we can certainly be better, where we have been better the first part of the series.
I don't think by any means were we bad. It was a pretty even game. It's two pretty good teams that are trying to win.
You have to give San Jose credit. They pushed hard. They're a good team. I think when we're at our best, we get back the pucks quickly and we use our mobility and our stick skills to come out of our end zone efficiently. When we do that, I think it sets up our overall game.
I thought they really established strong pinches on the walls, and that's an area where we have to improve and get better, to be able to handle those better, to come out of our end zone. We've spoke about that as a team. It's not anything we didn't expect. We've seen it throughout the course of the playoffs. So it's not anything that we're not used to. We just have to be a little bit better at it.

Q. Mike, Geno made some comments yesterday to the effect of he wants to play with the puck more, get more shots on net, maybe that the power play has to show some more urgency. Knowing his personality as you do, what's your reaction to those comments?
COACH SULLIVAN: My reaction is that Geno really wants to help this team win. That's how he feels his contribution to helping us win, that's how it takes place.
Even though he hasn't scored in this series, he still has an impact on the game. I've said this all throughout the playoffs, with our top players, of course we'd like them to score, and when they score, it certainly improves our chances of winning games. But when they don't score, they still have an impact on the game.
Those are the discussions that we've had with Geno and Sid and players of that type, where as long as we're playing the game the right way, we're taking what the game gives us, we don't become a high‑risk team, because we're forcing plays to try to score that aren't necessarily there.
If we play the game the right way, they'll score. I believe that.
Geno, he's an elite player, a world‑class player. He still has had an impact on this series even though he hasn't scored. I know how much it means to him to help this team win, his care factor. I think that's probably an indication of his answers to you.

Q. Olli skated with some of the aces this morning. Should we expect any change in his status or availability tonight?

Q. In the last game, Lovejoy and Olli got stuck in the offensive zone for periods of time. Anything you want to see them do different or better? Where do they tighten up their game?
COACH SULLIVAN: When we get hemmed in in our end zone, it doesn't fall on any two players. There's five guys on the ice out there that have to work together to try to get out of our end zone. I don't know that it falls on any two players.
There are instances where we had extended zone time. There were instances where San Jose had extended zone time. The zone time, as far as offensive zone and defensive zone, was almost 50%. That's an indication of how the game was being played. It was a pretty even game.
Certainly when we're trying to work together as a group to exit out of our end zone, we have exit strategies and release points and support mechanisms built in place that we try to help our guys with puck support so that we can get out of our end zone if and when we do get hemmed in there.
I don't think it's anything we have to overthink. I think it's a combination of us just playing with a little bit more heightened intensity, and maybe simplifying the game a little bit.
But you also have to give San Jose credit. They're a good team.

Q. Mike, the whole lineup thing. Do you anticipate the same lineup as you had for Game3 in Game4 tonight?
COACH SULLIVAN: For our team?

Q. Yes.
COACH SULLIVAN: I would anticipate a similar lineup.

Q. Similar?

Q. Could it change?
COACH SULLIVAN: You'll see the lineup at warmups, like you always do.

Q. We always look at shots, you guys look at chances a lot of times. What did you see in terms of your scoring chances in Game3 as opposed to 1 and 2? Any changes there from when you went over the tape?
COACH SULLIVAN: From a chance standpoint, the chances were fairly even. We try to look at statistics and put them in their proper context, that gives us an indication of how we think the game is played. If anything, it gives us, or provides affirmation, that what we see is actually what we see.
I think sometimes you can get fooled by certain statistics if you look at them in isolation. So we never look at any one statistic in isolation and try to draw a conclusion because I think it's dangerous, especially when you don't apply the proper context.
The scoring chances were fairly even in the last game. The first two games, we controlled the scoring chances. We've controlled the shot clock in all of the games.
But I don't think in the last game the shot clock was an indication of how the game was being played. I think it was a more even game than the shot clock indicated. That's what we told our players.
So we try to see the game for how it is, and we try to look at a number of different statistics that we track, then apply it in its proper context to try to get a true indication of how the game is played.

Q. Hagelin and Hornqvist are popular players in Sweden. They had such great seasons after not having started so well. What do you think about them? They're on the World Cup team now. What are your comments about them?
COACH SULLIVAN: Not only are they very popular players in Sweden, they're very popular players in Pittsburgh, as well. We're thrilled with how they're playing for our team. They're both terrific players in their own right. They're different in how they play. But what they bring to our team, they certainly make us a better team.
Haggy is a guy that brings tremendous speed. His puck pursuit and his hockey sense is really underrated. He has the ability to see the game pretty well at both ends of the rink both offensively and defensively. Because of that, you know, we're able to use him with top players.
Hornqvist is a guy, he's a bit of a bull in a china closet. He's hard to play against. He plays in the battle areas. He goes to the net. I think he makes it very difficult on our opponent's goaltenders because of how hard he plays in front of the net.
He's scored a number of big goals for us throughout the course of this post‑season. Maybe the greatest thing that I love about him is just his passion for the game. He wears his emotions right on his sleeve. We love that about him.
Thank you.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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