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June 3, 2017

Mike Sullivan

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania - Postgame

Nashville - 5, Pittsburgh - 1

THE MODERATOR: We have Pittsburgh Penguins coach Mike Sullivan. Questions, please.

Q. Mike, I thought the first few minutes of the game were pretty good for you guys. Your power play had a couple of opportunities to go to a two-goal lead. What was the problem with the power play? What's been the problem really the whole series?
MIKE SULLIVAN: Well, I thought the first part of the game we did everything we wanted to do. We got the first goal. I thought we controlled the puck. We controlled momentum.

The first power play was really good. We had some really good looks. We almost scored.

I thought the second power play was not as good. I thought it gave Nashville a bit of a boost.

We have to be better. We've got to execute. I don't think we've executed as well with what we're trying to accomplish against the type of penalty kill that we're up against.

So moving forward, we've got to find a way to have more success. We've got capable people. These guys are real good players. They've been good for us here all year long, all playoffs long. I know they're going to be a difference here for us moving forward.

It's been a little bit of a struggle early on here. We believe in these guys.

Q. What did you see from Nashville as far as being back home and making a push? What did you think about how you guys were able to answer that?
MIKE SULLIVAN: I thought we answered fairly well. They get two goals -- their first two goals in the second there. I thought our push-back was really good after that. We had seven, eight, nine minutes of really good hockey.

I liked some of what we did. Obviously I thought we gave them a couple of -- you know, we gave them a couple of freebies where we didn't force them to have to work for it. That's an area where we've got to be better moving forward.

I think we can do a better job hanging on to pucks in the offensive zone and forcing them to have to expend energy defending us a little bit more. I thought we got pushed off pucks there at times. That's an important aspect of our game. That's how we control momentum. That's how we control territory. We've got to do a better job just getting our noses over the puck and being a little bit stiffer.

Q. When you're trailing in a game, can you prevent a lot of those rush chances? Were there some preventable in that sequence?
MIKE SULLIVAN: There were some that were preventable, for sure. We'll watch the film. We'll see if we can learn from it. We're disappointed we didn't get the result. We also understand this is a series. Our guys, they've been through this. They can draw on their experience. We're not going to let this certainly get us down. We're going to learn from it, move by it, and get ready for the next game.

Q. Mike, do you look at Phil's game right now and get any sense that some sign of goal scoring is coming from him? Do you think he's showing confidence with the puck on his stick right now, taking chances that might be there?
MIKE SULLIVAN: Well, he's an elite shooter. He can score goals. We always try to encourage him to shoot the puck more because he has one of the best shots in the game, we believe. He had a couple looks tonight. He had a breakaway late in the game.

I think Phil is a guy, if one goes in for him, it certainly gives him a boost of confidence. We're trying to encourage him to shoot the puck and think shot first. I think, you know, he's certainly at his best when he's in that mindset.

Q. You've probably been outplayed in two of the three games so far. Is that a concern moving forward in the series?
MIKE SULLIVAN: We've been outplayed in stretches, you know. I don't think anybody should discount the goals that we scored, the counterattack game that we have. We've been outplayed in stretches, there's no question. We're well aware of that.

Do we have to be better? Yeah, we know we've got to be better. I think our team is capable of that. So, you know, we've got to try to respond the right way. It's a seven-game series. It's a long series. We knew this was going to be a hard-fought battle. That's exactly what it is.

Q. Mike, neither Geno nor Sid had a shot on goal today. That goes with not shooting enough on the power play. Were there more opportunities out there for them? Do you think they were passing them up or they just didn't have them tonight?
MIKE SULLIVAN: I thought they had some attempts. They certainly had some attempts that they didn't get to the net. I think that the power play didn't get enough zone time to give them the opportunity on the power play. My feeling, or at least my observation of coaching these guys, is when they have success on the power play, it helps their overall game, their five-on-five game. It gives them confidence. They feel the puck.

We haven't had the success that we would like here in this early part of the series. We certainly got to figure that out as a group. I believe we will.

But I thought they had some looks. They had some attempts. They didn't hit the net, obviously. Those are important guys for us. We want them to get pucks on the net because they have the ability to score.

Q. Before this game, much was made of what the Nashville crowd would be like. Did the crowd stand out compared to other road playoff environments you've been in?
MIKE SULLIVAN: Well, it's an exciting atmosphere. We were well aware of it going in. I think our guys were excited to play here. It's a great hockey city. There's a lot of energy in the building. I don't think it had an impact on our team's ability to perform. I thought our players really liked the buzz in the building. It's an exciting place to play.


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