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May 21, 2017

Mike Sullivan

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania - Postgame

Pittsburgh - 7, Ottawa - 0

THE MODERATOR: Questions for coach.

Q. Coach, talk about the assembly of your lines, given the guys who were and weren't available. Seemed like you wanted to have a grip guy on each line.
MIKE SULLIVAN: Well, we're trying to create some balance. We like to have a north-south guy on every line that helps us play the game that we want to play. That's a speed game, a north-south game, someone that can get into the battles and force puck battles for us.

So the makeup of the lines right now gives us that balance, and it gives us people on every line that can play a north-south game, that have a physical component to their respective game, and then help us create those 50/50 pucks that we're looking for.

Obviously the team played extremely well tonight. Every line we liked. It was a solid effort.

Q. Mike, did you feel like you guys played more of your own game, a speed game, an aggressive game, than you have at any point this post-season tonight?
MIKE SULLIVAN: This was one of the more complete efforts, for sure. We've had a few of them. This is one of them.

I thought our guys had a readiness about them tonight that we're going to need moving forward if we're going to get to where we want to go.

This is a real good opponent that defends extremely hard. So to have the effort that we had tonight, the readiness that we had tonight, that will to win that we've had conversations about here over the last few weeks, it's so important to win at this time of year.

You know, I think when we play the type of game that we played tonight, it allows us to dictate the terms out there a little bit and play to the style of play, the identity of this Penguins team.

Q. How does the dynamic of this team change when some of the younger guys, like Rust, is playing the way he did with and that jump, Rowney and that crew contributing the way they did?
MIKE SULLIVAN: Well, I think it brings an element of enthusiasm or hunger to our group. It's contagious. When these guys come into the lineup, they bring the energy that they bring, the hunger on the puck, their next effort all the time out there, I think it's contagious. I think it trickles down our bench.

When some of these guys come into the lineup and have an impact the way they do, like Rusty tonight, for example, I think it goes a long way to helping us win games. I've said all along here it takes more than 12 forwards, six defensemen, you know, to win at this time of year.

We've got a full complement of players that it seems like with the injuries we've had, we've had to utilize all of them to help us win games. When these guys step into the lineup, they do a great job for us.

I think it starts with a certain mindset or certain hunger that helps us. So we're going to need that enthusiasm and that hunger moving forward.

Q. We talked some about secondary scoring, that had been a big part of your success last year. Hadn't gotten as much in this series. How much was it a boost tonight to get something from Bonino and that line?
MIKE SULLIVAN: Well, it's huge. I think it makes our team so much more difficult to play against when we get the production throughout our lineup like we did. I think we had seven different goal-scorers.

When Bones' line chips in the way it did offensively tonight, not just with goals, but I thought their puck possession, their puck-pursuit game was really strong, chasing pucks down, chasing defensemen down, forcing their defensemen to have to make plays under pressure, then creating their offense off of an errant pass or a potential, you know, loose puck.

So I think that group of players can generate offense that way just as effectively as it does off the rush or off of our possession game. I thought Bones' line in particular tonight was as good a puck-pursuit line as we've had out there. They created a lot of momentum for our team.

Q. You dominated the special teams battle. What have you been happy about your power play?
MIKE SULLIVAN: I think the power play is executing. I think they've got a game plan. They're seeing the plays that are there to be made. When they're there, they make them. I think we're willing to shoot the puck when the lanes are there to shoot the puck. I think that's an important aspect of having a good power play, you have to establish a shot. We can create our offense off of that.

I credit the players that are on the power play at this point. They're doing a terrific job. They're winning loose pucks. Their entries on the breakouts, they're executing really well. They're making the right plays. Their decisions with the puck and their awareness has been really good.

Those guys have done a terrific job for us. The penalty kill, quietly throughout the course of these playoffs, has done a great job. They're competitive guys. They compete hard. They're willing to block shots. I think we're getting those 200-foot clears that are so important on those loose pucks or a one face-off. When you get an opportunity to get a 200-foot clear, I think it helps your penalty kill so much more. You're forcing a power play to spend 20, 25 seconds to gain access to your zone and have to expend the energy to do so.

The penalty killers I think have really stepped up for us. It's an important element of the game. So we've got to continue to keep that mindset and have that urgency to our game on our penalty kill so that we can continue moving forward here to have success.

Q. What is it that your players are executing particularly the last couple games that seems to be effective in not even allowing Ottawa to sort of pack it in and condense as much as they were able to do in Game 1 and 2? Is it the puck retrieval?
MIKE SULLIVAN: I don't know if it's any one thing. I think it's a lot of things that are involved. I think when we have to put the puck in forecheck, I think we're getting on pucks quickly. I think we're forcing them to have to make plays under pressure. Usually that results in an errant pass or a loose puck. Then we can create some offense that way.

I think our defensemen have done a great job of getting involved in the offense. It's hard to generate offense, whether it be in-zone or off the rush, in the absence of your defensemen getting involved. Teams just defend too well. This team in particular is a very good defensive team. They've got a lot of structure.

It takes all five of the players on the ice to try to create the opportunities that we're looking for to create. And I think when you look, in particular, in the offensive zone, I think our defensemen over the last couple of games have done a much better job at getting involved in the offense and making good decisions when they have the puck along that blueline, and helping us sustain the attack.

Q. Quick thing. Do you have any info on Scott Wilson?

Q. First two rounds you created a lot of offense off the rush. When you get into a series like this where maybe that's going to be more difficult, you have to create offense other ways, does it require convincing on your part to some of your skilled players who are used to creating off the rush?
MIKE SULLIVAN: Yes (laughter).

You know, we have a group of players that instinctively want to play with the puck. That's what separates them from others. You know, they're elite players. Sometimes these guys want to make plays when there isn't any ice to play on or there isn't a play to be made. So that's a discipline that I think this team has developed, and we have to continue to work at, so we don't feed our opponent's counterattack game with their transition game.

We talk a lot about not beating ourselves, and defining what that means. Well, one of the easiest ways to defeat yourself is if you're careless with the decisions you make with the puck in the critical areas of the rink.

Our team in particular I think has that challenge because of the DNA of this group. It is a strength of our team, but if we're not diligent, it can become a weakness of our team. So that's something that we talk about with these guys daily.

Thank you.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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