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May 17, 2017

Mike Sullivan

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania - Postgame

Ottawa-5, Pittsburgh-1

Q. It seemed like you guys were chasing them a lot. A lot of things went wrong. Can you put your finger on anything in particular?
MIKE SULLIVAN: I just think we've got to be more ready to play from the drop of the puck. I think, when you give up a goal that early in the game against a team that's playing at home, it gives their team a lot of energy. So I think we've got to be ready right from the drop of the puck, and we simply have to be better. We've got to be playing on our toes.

So it's tough when you give up that many goals in the first period. You don't really give your team a chance in the game. It wasn't like we gave up a lot of scoring chances. We didn't. But they all seemed to go in the net.

So that was -- for me, the takeaway is you can't lose the first period by four goals and think you're going to win.

Q. There were some strange bounces in that first period as well. What can you better do team defensively to minimize the damage when that happens?
MIKE SULLIVAN: I don't think it has anything to do with strategy or Xs and Os. I think it's a readiness. I think it's -- you know, it's a hunger, and we've got to play with more conviction. Our team is usually a team that plays that way. So to come out in the first period and not bring the necessary conviction that we need to be effective is disappointing.

Q. Mike, resilience is a word you, of course, have used a lot this season. Could you see enough of that, especially in the offensive end, as the game went on?
MIKE SULLIVAN: Well, listen, we had a fair amount of scoring chances. It's not that we didn't have chances to score. I think the score of the game is not an indication of how the whole game is played out. So it's not like we didn't do anything right out there. We had a fair amount of scoring chances we didn't convert on.

We just have to stay with it. We have to stay with it. This is the nature of, when you're playing a seven-game series, you have to have the ability to respond. There's no doubt in my mind this group of players will. We didn't get the result that we wanted tonight. We certainly would have liked to have had a better first period than we did. We did some good things out there. We have to build on those. We've got to learn from this experience and move by it and get ready for the next game.

For me, that's the resilience that we need to show at this point.

Q. Mike, could you walk us through the decision to make a change in net. Do you know who your starter will be there for Game 4?
MIKE SULLIVAN: I haven't even given any consideration to that at this point. We give up four goals as quickly as we did, sometimes when you make a change, it's for more than one reason. It's a change for the whole group, and sometimes you can effect some positive reaction to it. It's a little bit of a wakeup call, I guess, for the whole group. I thought that was the case in the first period.

Q. You kind of answered my question, but what did you think of the seven "D"? You had some new guys in there and some guys coming back from injury.
MIKE SULLIVAN: We did it for specific reasons. I don't think we're a coaching staff that believes we're going to play seven defensemen, eleven forwards every night. We did it for specific reasons. We'll evaluate our team moving forward and make decisions accordingly.

Q. Last year, in the Eastern Conference Finals, you got down 4-0, made a goalie change, started a different goalie the next game. What did you learn from that, and how much will it affect your decision-making going into Game 4 this series?
MIKE SULLIVAN: I think this is a whole new experience. This is a different year. It's a different challenge. And quite honestly, I haven't even gotten there yet. We're still trying to digest this game that we just played. And we'll sleep on it, and we'll make decisions moving forward.

Q. Mike, with Letang and Schultz being out, every other defenseman has to step up and sometimes maybe play a role that they're not used to. Are you worried a bit about your defense? How can you deal with that kind of situation?
MIKE SULLIVAN: Well, we've dealt with it all year long. Are we worried about it? No, not really. We don't have a choice. That's just the reality of the circumstance, and it's nothing that this team isn't accustomed to. We've been dealing with this all year long.

Kris Letang played 40 games for us this year. We had to find ways to win without Tanger for half the season, which is hard to do. He's an elite player. He's not an easy guy to replace. He's one of those special players that can really take your team to another level.

But the reality is it is what it is. This is the circumstance we're in. We've been in it for a long time. We know we have capable guys that can step in and get the job done, and we've got to find ways to win. That's our challenge, and that's our expectation. We're not worried about it. We're going to use the guys that we have. We're going to try to put them in positions to be successful. And then we're going to learn from each experience, and then we're going to move by it, and we're going to attack the next game.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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