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June 12, 2016

Mike Sullivan

San Jose, California: Game Six

Q. Mike, you talked a little bit about the team came out a little unsettled, played a good 55 minutes. Do you have to do anything to keep them from being flat? You say you try to keep the outside noise away from the team, but do you think that maybe played a little bit of a factor in that?
COACH SULLIVAN: No, I don't think so. I think, listen, the stakes are high. This team really wants to win. When that happens, we're all human and we all have emotions.
When I say the team was unsettled, by no means do I think we were flat. We certainly didn't have the start we wanted as far as controlling momentum right from the drop of the puck. Give San Jose credit, they were opportunistic on a couple of the chances they got and it ended up on the back of our net.
I think we can play with more purpose in those first few shifts to get us off on the right foot in the first period.
I know that our team is well aware that we need to have a better start to make sure that we don't get down in the game as early as we did. It's tough to win when you do that.
I give our guys a lot of credit for fighting back right away and scoring two goals to get ourselves right back in the hockey game.
For me, I don't want to overthink it. Our guys are well aware of how we need to play.

Q. Mike, you have more of a window on what these guys are going through than we do. What do you think it's like for them to play on June 12th when NHL is already working out for next year?
COACH SULLIVAN: I think it's exciting. I think our guys are having fun with this whole journey that we've had. They're a close‑knit group. They enjoy playing for each other. I think they're having fun with this.
I think they're embracing the challenges we've been faced with to this point. We've got another great opportunity tonight. I think that's how we're all looking at it. We're excited to play.
You know, it's hard to get to this point. The league is a very competitive league. There's a lot of really good teams. We beat some good teams to get here.
I think our guys look at it in that light. We're excited to keep playing. By no means are we satisfied with where we're at. We're looking forward to this game today.

Q. Mike, what did you like about the way that your team adapted to the ice conditions here between Game3 and 4? How might the ice conditions shape the style of play you have tonight?
COACH SULLIVAN: We're not worried about it, quite honestly. Both teams have to play on the same sheet. Depending on how it is, sometimes we have to simplify our game.
We're not overly concerned about it. We're just going to try to play our game.

Q. Mike, I think Kris Letang came back from injury somewhere around the time that you were hired as the head coach. What has he meant for that defense, especially when you're talking about a defense that might be on the green side?
COACH SULLIVAN: Well, Tanger is invaluable. He just plays so many important minutes for us, and so many minutes for us, in so many situations. He's an elite defenseman. I think he's one of the top defensemen in the league.
He helps us get out of our end zone. He joins the rush. He runs our power play. He's in the penalty kill situations.
I think his defensive play is underrated. His offensive play I think speaks for itself. You can see it in his numbers, in his performance. His play away from the puck, how he helps us defend in our end zone, kill penalties, play those kind of minutes for us, those are underrated by a lot of people. Certainly not by his coaching staff.
But certainly he's a very important player for us. He's an elite defenseman.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, coach.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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