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May 20, 2017

Mike Sullivan

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania - Practice Day

Q. Will something change for tomorrow?
MIKE SULLIVAN: Well, we're hoping we bring more of the same. We really liked our game last night. I thought the players responded really well. We had a lot of energy. I thought we were a hungry team. We were a determined group. When we play with the conviction like we played last night, we're a competitive hockey team.

Q. Is there anything you have to say or do to maintain that in between games?
MIKE SULLIVAN: I don't think so. We've got an experienced group here. We've got great veteran leadership. These guys have been here before. They understand it. They understand what's at stake. So, you know, every game, as you move forward in the series, becomes that much more important.

So we're pleased with the effort we had in Game 4. We've got to put it behind us now, look forward, focus on Game 5.

Q. Patrick, Brian and Justin, are you optimistic these guys might come back in these next couple games?
MIKE SULLIVAN: Yeah, we're hopeful. We're hopeful. These guys are all day-to-day. We're hopeful they make progress enough to the point that they can help us in the lineup.

Q. Is Justin a possibility tomorrow?
MIKE SULLIVAN: It's a possibility. His status is day-to-day.

Q. What have you liked the most about Olli's game? Finding that consistency?
MIKE SULLIVAN: I think he's been one of our most competitive players. I like his stiffness in the puck battles. I think he's playing with confidence, with the puck. He's making good decisions. He's joining the rush when the opportunities presents itself, like he did on the goal he scored last night. He's not forcing things. That's when he's at his best.

I've said it on a number of occasions that I think Olli's greatest strength is his hockey sense. He reads the play extremely well. Because of that I think he has the ability to jump into the right ice at the right times to help us offensively. He's strong down low. He can defend hard.

But what I really liked about him is just his competitive spirit at this point. You can tell he really wants to win.

Q. Do you notice a chip on the shoulder of your "D" corps at all? They don't get a ton of accolades.
MIKE SULLIVAN: No, they don't. As I said last night, these guys just quietly go about their business. They're vitally important to our team, the success that we've had to this point. They're competing hard. We're not a perfect group back there by any stretch, but these guys are playing hard.

I love their commitment level. We've had so many games over the course of this playoffs where we've lost a defenseman early in the game, and we're forced to have to go to five. These guys, you know, they don't think twice. They just keep playing. Nothing fazes them back.

I've said a lot that they're the unsung heroes of this team because they get overlooked, for obvious reasons. We have some dynamic forwards that a lot of times capture the storylines. But these guys are playing behind them and they quietly do a real good job for us.

Q. You mentioned last night you thought it was Sid's best game in a while. What was there that you saw more of?
MIKE SULLIVAN: Oh, I thought there was a lot. He was on the puck. He was hard on the puck. He was making plays. He was defending hard. He was inspired. He was really inspired. When he plays that way, he's tough to handle. He inspires our group, as well.

He's played a lot of hockey. I think for him to continue to play the inspirational game that he plays, I think it's indicative of how badly he wants to win. He's probably the fiercest competitor that I've been associated with in the game. Last night I thought was an example of it.

He's got an insatiable appetite to be the best. He has a drive and a will to win that, in my estimation of being around the game, not too many people have. I think because of that, that's what separates him from others.

Q. You mentioned he's played a lot of hockey. Have you sensed it's been harder for him and guys that have played so much that they have to dig down?
MIKE SULLIVAN: Not him in particular. He's so fit, he takes care of himself so well. He has the ability to do it. I think he's an extremely fit athlete. I'm not sure we can give him enough.

Q. Jake has been getting a ton of chances, maybe a bit unlucky. Do you have to pull him aside and keep him focused that one of these pucks are going to go in at some point?
MIKE SULLIVAN: No. I think Jake, he's a mature guy for a young player. The most important thing is that he's getting the chances. You really can't control whether it goes in or it doesn't go in. What you can do is control the process. He's doing that extremely well.

He's getting lots of chances. He's hit a number of posts here in this series. At some point they're going to start going in for him. That's really all you can control, is just playing the game the right way, shooting when the opportunities present themselves, trying to make the right plays. He's doing that.

We believe it's a matter of time before it goes in the net for him.

Q. How much do you hope that Crosby's style of play rubs off on guys like Sheary and Guentzel in the sense to concentrate on all the other areas, hope that because you're being so active that the puck will find its way into the net?
MIKE SULLIVAN: Well, I think anybody that plays with Sid has opportunities because of the way he commands the puck. We try to put guys with Sid that we think are complementary. He likes to play down low. For an elite player, he has a blue-collar aspect to his game. He might be the best in the league at it.

When you look at Jake or Kuni or some of the guys we've put with Sid, that's one of the reasons we do it, because we think they can help one another in that aspect of the game.

I think Sid helps those guys maybe more so because of his skill level and his compete, how hard he is on pucks. So I do think it helps both sides. I think these guys help Sid, but I think Sid helps them, as well.

Q. The power play is starting to get into a bit of a rhythm. Are there habits that can carry over from five-on-four to five-on-five?
MIKE SULLIVAN: I think when the power play has success, it gives the players a boost of confidence because they're having success. It lifts their spirits. I think it definitely has a positive impact on their overall games, for all those guys that are on it.

I think the power play has been fairly consistent as far as their performance and execution throughout the course of this playoffs. We've had some games where we haven't scored, but we've liked a lot of what they've done. This series is no different. Even the games we didn't score, they've had some great looks. I think they're making good decisions. I think they're committed to the thankless jobs, like winning puck battles and retrievals, getting to the net when we're shooting, those subtleties that are so important to a power play success.

These guys are willing to compete and get in the battles and win the puck battles. I do think when they have success, it certainly helps their overall game from a confidence standpoint.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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