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June 3, 2017

Mike Sullivan

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania - Pregame

THE MODERATOR: Questions for Coach Sullivan.

Q. Mike, is Nick Bonino playing tonight? If not, who goes in for him?
MIKE SULLIVAN: All those guys will be game-time decisions.

Q. You mentioned after Game 2, the third period was the period your team played the best hockey. Why do you believe that was the best performance to this point?
MIKE SULLIVAN: Well, I thought it's the closest we've played to our identity. We were quick on pucks. We won a lot of puck battles. I thought we used our speed to our advantage.

Obviously we scored some goals, which helps. But there are a lot of areas to like about that third period that we felt as though it is the closest thing, you know, to this team's identity that we've played in this series so far.

Q. Mike, if I can just play the what if game for a second. If Carl Hagelin gets a chance to play, how would you expect him to respond after sitting out a few?
MIKE SULLIVAN: If Haggy plays, I'm sure he'll bring everything he always brings to our team. He's got tons of speed. He's a real good penalty killer. I think he forces turnovers all over the ice because of his speed and his puck pursuit game. Haggy is a good player. He's been a big part of this team all year. He's helped us win a lot of games.

As I've said here in the beginning part of this series, when we chose to hold him out of the lineup, he's been dealing with a difficult situation, and doing his best to continue to help his team win.

We have no qualms of putting a guy like Haggy in our lineup. We know he's a quality player. We just have difficult lineup decisions, as we have here throughout the course of this playoffs.

Certainly if he is a guy that goes in the lineup tonight, we know he can help us win.

Q. Mike, you mentioned faceoffs the other day. When you're scrutinizing those, how much is about the center simply winning the draw versus what the other four guys do?
MIKE SULLIVAN: Well, I believe it's a combination of things. It's not just the center iceman. Probably seven out of ten faceoffs end up somewhere around the faceoff circle. Now you need help from the people beside you to get in and get their noses over pucks and win some pucks battles. It's a collective effort on a lot of occasions.

As a team, we know we have to be a whole lot better in that area. Probably of the scoring chances we gave up in the last game, 50% of them started off of faceoffs. That's a guesstimation on my part. I'm not being specific.

My point is, there were a fair amount where we just didn't pay enough attention to detail. We've got to be more determined in that area of the game.

Q. Mike, a lot has been made about the atmosphere here in Nashville inside the arena. I think it was Chris Kunitz the other day said, We need to play the dullest road game ever. What goes into playing a good, dull game?
MIKE SULLIVAN: Well, I just think we got to play the game the right way. I don't know if that's dull or exciting. The way I look at it, it's not like we have a game plan for home and a game plan for away. We put a game plan together that we think plays to the strength of this group. Regardless of where the game is being played, that's the game we're going to try to play.

I think it's a great environment. I know our players are excited to be a part of it. This isn't something that's new to this group. We've been in a lot of raucous buildings over the years here. This is just another one.

For me it's that much more fun to be a part of. This is the best time of year to be playing. They're exciting environments to go into, regardless of what building you're playing in. I know our players are excited about it.

Q. Along the same lines, you've been in this situation where you played two at home, then Game 3 is on the road. In those situations, is there a discernible, tangible difference in the way your opponent plays because they're playing at home for the first time in a series?
MIKE SULLIVAN: I don't know. You know they're going to come out with a lot of energy. They're going to try to have a good start. They're going to try to feed off their home crowd. I'm stating the obvious probably.

Other than that, I think -- like I said, I don't think our team is any different than other teams. It's not like teams have two different game plans, one for home and one for the road. I think that's something that for me, it gets talked about a lot, but I'm not sure in real terms it's what actually happens. Teams are trying to play to their strengths, regardless of where the game is played.

Certainly home crowds can give a team a boost or a lift. I think there's something to be said for going into an environment that is a little hostile, and the energy that you potentially can feed off from it.

I think this is a great opportunity for our team. We're excited to be a part of it. These are two great hockey cities. It's just fun to be a part of this thing.


FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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