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May 24, 2017

Mike Sullivan

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania - Practice Day

Q. How can the game (inaudible), and even last year in the Eastern Conference help your guys for tomorrow?
MIKE SULLIVAN: Well, I think our guys have it in perspective. They understand what a seven-game series is all about, and all you can do is control what you can and do your very best to have success.

I loved our team's effort last night. I thought our effort was terrific. I thought our execution was really good on a lot of occasions. There was a lot to like about the game we had last night. You know, minus the result.

So we've got to make sure we don't let that disappointment, I guess, affect us moving forward. We just got to reset our mind and go out and go after Game 7.

Q. Is the psychology of a Game 7 very different from any other game in terms of keeping positive thoughts, keeping the bad thoughts at bay, sort of thing?
MIKE SULLIVAN: You know, I think that it's -- I think the psychology of high stakes games are -- you know, are -- what's the right word? I think the psychology of high stakes games definitely have impacts on players.

What I love about our team is we've always showed an ability to respond. We've had some -- a lot of high stakes games here over the last couple years, certainly in my tenure here, and our players to a man have responded the right way.

I think it always starts with our leadership. These guys have a lot of experience of playing in this type of an environment, and I think that experience will serve them well. But certainly, we've got to go out, and we've got to earn Game 7.

Q. As a coach, when you're playing a seven game and you can count on a guy like Sidney Crosby, is he the ultimate guy that you want on your team for that type of game?
MIKE SULLIVAN: Well, I think he is. I just think he -- him, in particular, I think, has played in arguably the most high stakes environments in all different venues, whether it be the NHL, the Olympics, the World Cup. You know, he has such a wealth of experience to draw on.

And I think he's a fierce competitor. I think Sid's a guy that wants to win in the worst way, and he's willing to do whatever it takes to win. And so there's no doubt in my mind he'll lead by example.

Q. We were talking about Malkin yesterday had a really good game and he wasn't satisfied. Is he another guy that pushes himself in situations like this?
MIKE SULLIVAN: Yeah, he is. You know, these guys, I think their expectation is they're going to win. Anything short of that is disappointment on our part. So our expectation is we're going to win games and we're going to go into the game tomorrow with that expectation, and now we've got to go out -- and we understand that we've got to go out and earn it.

We've earned it all the way to this point. We've got to continue to do that moving forward.

Q. It seems like they targeted (inaudible) after the whistle kind of stuff last game? How do you think he handled that?
MIKE SULLIVAN: I think he handled that extremely well. It's nothing new to Sid. Most teams in the league try to go after him. They're trying to get him off his game. I thought he was extremely focused. He played really hard. He had a number of high quality chances. The puck didn't go in for him last night, but if he gets that many quality chances in a game, he's a guy that usually converts.

I thought he handled it extremely well. He was focused. He was determined, and he played the game the right way.

Q. What do you like about Matt Murray's mental fortitude, just handling all the pressure that comes with being a goalie?
MIKE SULLIVAN: Well, I think he's another guy that has shown an ability to perform in a high stakes environment? He doesn't -- he has the ability to move by things that don't particularly go his way, and he doesn't let it affect his future performance, and I think it's critical this time of year.

Q. Mike, there's talk of repeating the Stanley Cup champions for the first time in a long time. That may be outside noise to you guys right now, but how do you avoid worrying about that when you have so many repeat scenarios throughout the playoffs in terms of Game 7s and things like that?
MIKE SULLIVAN: Well, I think we really don't talk about that stuff. Our team talks about the one game right in front of us, and that's the only approach that we can take, is making sure that we stay in the moment. And we just make sure we focus on the task at hand. That's an important aspect of having success at any time of year, but this time of year in particular.

So that's never a topic that enters our discussion within our dressing room. We're really focused on that one game right in front of us.

Q. How much can you pull from that you've had those experiences in Game 7s both last year and this year in the playoffs?
MIKE SULLIVAN: Well, I have to believe those experiences will serve our players well. It's not something that's new to them. These guys have been involved in these experiences on a number of occasions, and they have those experiences to draw on. You know, I think they know what to expect, and now it's a matter of going out and earning it and controlling what they can and doing your very best to get the result that we're looking for.

Q. You saw Bryan Rust last year and even this year in Game 7 be the guy that scores the big goals. Is that just the way it happens sometimes, where other guys are the guys that end up being heroes in this instance?
MIKE SULLIVAN: Well, he's one of those guys for us who has shown the ability to be the very best when the stakes are at the highest. He's had a lot of great Game 7s, and he's had a lot of great playoff games. Rusty is a good player, and our expectation is that he's going to have a solid game for us. Whether or not he scores, that's something that we can't always control, but what he can do -- and I know Rusty knows this, he's going to control his effort and his attitude and his focus and conviction, and when a player controls all of those things, he puts himself in the best position to be successful.

Q. Mike, you've used the phrase reset a mindset many times throughout this playoff run. How hard is it to do that when you're bringing in the human emotion element of it? What's the challenge for you as a coach to get these guys to refocus on the task at hand?
MIKE SULLIVAN: Well, I think it's an important aspect of -- it's a certain mental toughness or discipline of mind that I think is critically important when you're playing in the playoffs. We talk to these guys all the time about having a short memory, and we've got to have a short memory whether it's good or bad. Whether we win a game or lose a game, we want to make sure we refocus and reset our mindset in order to be in the best possible position for that very next game right in front of us.

So we've had a lot of practice at it over the last couple years here, and there's no doubt, in my mind certainly, that our guys understand it, and they'll have the right -- they'll have the right frame of mind going into Game 7.

Q. Is it reasonable to think that Schultz or Hornqvist might be able to try and play tomorrow?
MIKE SULLIVAN: Yeah, it's reasonable.

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