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May 17, 2017

Guy Boucher

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania - Postgame

Ottawa-5, Pittsburgh-1

Q. Coach, I know you don't care about what people think about your system, but nothing boring about that one tonight.
GUY BOUCHER: We played a good game. We've played now three games, so nine periods. We're very happy with eight periods out of the nine. We didn't like our third period in Pittsburgh.

We really liked our first game. We outshot them the first game 32-17, five-on-five. So we had good pressure. We had sustained pressure, and we had lots of opportunities. We had a shooting mentality, and we were paying the price inside the face-off dots.

In the second game, we were okay for the first and second period. We were fine. But in the third period, we started to be real perimeter offense, and we didn't manage the puck well on our breakouts, and that was our focus. We threw pucks away, and then we gave them momentum.

We wanted to change that going into today, but the rest we didn't change anything. Before the series, we were averaging three goals a game. I think we were top three. And before tonight, we were top three for goals for in the NHL in the playoffs. So I think their defensive game has looked okay, and our offensive game is looking okay too.

Q. Your line combinations tonight, you got contributions from many of them tonight. What was the difference? You mentioned the pressure. Why was there better pressure on the fore-check tonight?
GUY BOUCHER: We were just alive. I think, if you followed all of our games here, that's how we were. I mean, we've had a lot of those games in the playoffs. Just in front of our fans, I think we've got a lot of enthusiasm, a lot of energy. And our pressure has paid off against Boston. It's paid off against the Rangers, and it's paid off tonight. Our fans love the way we play, and they love the enthusiasm that our players are displaying. They showed it again tonight.

Q. Could you provide an update on Alex Burrows?
GUY BOUCHER: He's got a lower body injury. We'll see tomorrow. Hopeful for the next game.

Q. When Marc Methot was out of the lineup recovering, what did you miss most about having him out there?
GUY BOUCHER: Well, you saw tonight. I thought he was outstanding. But you know what, he's been that guy quietly all year. Because Erik gets a lot of attention and some other guys get attention because of their offensive prowess, he's one of those guys that falls under the radar. But if you see him every day, it's his size, it's his mobility, his gapping is terrific. He finishes checks. He's got terrific stick. Since we're very aggressive fore-checking in the offensive zone, our Ds are pinching a lot, and we step up a lot in the neutral zone. A guy like that is really important.

I mean, Burrow is another guy, but if you see Phaneuf right now, he's another guy with a lot of physicality. I think it's really important that we step up everywhere on the ice with our defensemen, and those guys fit right in.

Q. You can't count on having that big of a lead early in this type of game obviously. How do you think your guys managed that situation and avoided allowing the Penguins to push back?
GUY BOUCHER: I think, obviously, we wouldn't want to give a power-play goal, but I think our five-on-five game was clear. We always talk about when we've got the puck and we're charging hard. When we don't have it, we're back-checking hard. I think what the players do really well is they transition real fast when we lose the puck. And we've got everybody back-checking with everything they've got, and we play a D-zone where the players are paying the price and blocking shots and fronting. And their sticks are doing -- the sticks are good.

When we're not playing well, that's what we're not doing. We've had moments against the Rangers where we were sniffing offensive zone and losing guys, and they were getting breakaways and two-on-ones, and we wanted to clean that up because we knew we wouldn't have any chance to win against Pittsburgh. I think we've done a better job of that, of transitioning, and I think that's what we did against the Rangers the last two games also.

That's the main focus. We want to attack hard, but the minute we lose it, we want to make sure we've got numbers back and guys back-checking hard.

Q. Zack gets his first goal of the playoffs. Just your thoughts on Zack's performance tonight.
GUY BOUCHER: I think he's outstanding. I really do. And we needed him. I've had to play Smitty center often lately on the fourth line, but he's definitely one of those guys in our top three lines. And he was there pretty much the entire year. We've had to use him otherwise in some parts of some games since being in the playoffs.

But I thought we needed him. After the third period we had in Pittsburgh where we didn't have any drive and we were playing perimeter, he is exactly that type of guy that can play with the top players and will bring that drive and that relentlessness going to the net and paying the price there, and that's exactly what he did. He brought us what we needed, and I think he was contagious, and we had everybody on that page, I think.

And it wasn't just the first period. We had a lot of good chances after that where guys were doing a good job of having a shooting mentality with guys there at the net, and that's when we're at our best. When we don't do that, we start to be a perimeter team. We're going nowhere, and we can't expect to score goals. We got to make sure that we represent that every game and every period, but guys are human. They've given a lot up till now. So they'll have an okay period like we had in Pittsburgh where we're not happy, and I love the way we rebound. That's our team all year. Whenever there's something we don't like, I'm pretty sure it's either the period after or the game after that guys have really showed up.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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