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June 6, 2017

Mike Sullivan

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania - Practice Day

THE MODERATOR: Questions for Coach Sullivan.

Q. Mike, I know you got a question last night about your goaltending with Matt Murray. Is there any reason to give that thought at this point, and what have you thought of Matt Murray? Any reason to give thought to a change at this point?
MIKE SULLIVAN: We haven't lost games because of our goaltending. That's my thought.

Q. So to follow up. There would be no reason for a change at this point?
MIKE SULLIVAN: Well, like anything, we make our lineup decisions on a game-by-game basis.

The one comment I will make is that we didn't lose the game last night because of our goaltending.

Q. Mike, there were rumors yesterday that there was maybe a very slight chance that Kris Letang might be able to come back during this series. I want to know your stand on that, whether you see it as a possibility?
MIKE SULLIVAN: There is zero chance that Kris Letang will come back for this series.

Q. Mike, I was wondering what your rationale was putting Archibald in last night for Wilson, and what you saw from Archibald in the game last night.
MIKE SULLIVAN: Well, we felt we wanted to try to put some enthusiasm and energy and speed in the lineup. Archie brings all those things to the table. He played some very solid games for us. He's a guy that brings a certain dimension that we felt we wanted to have in the game last night. That was the rationale for putting him in.

Q. Mike, your success normally on the road, this is the first time we've seen you go against an opponent and have them hold serve in the first two games they've had on the road in a best-of-seven. How do you think your team rebounds from that and how it sets up for a three-game sprint for the championship?
MIKE SULLIVAN: Well, we're confident our team will respond the right way, as they always have all season long.

I believe we've got great leadership in our room. We've got good players. They understand the circumstances. We felt as though, with each game we played here, our team game is getting stronger.

I thought the game last night, certainly our coaching staff felt as though the game last night might have been our best overall game in the series to this point. We were disappointed that we ended up on the wrong side of the score, but there was a lot to like about that game.

We had some high-quality scoring chances that we didn't convert. But certainly we felt as though we had one of our stronger games in the series to this point.

We believe in the group that we have. They have shown all kinds of evidence that they respond the right way to the adversities that we've been faced with all year long. We believe that we'll do it once again.

We're going to learn from the experience that we had last night. We'll put it behind us, then we'll get ready for Game 5. I know our guys are excited to play.

Q. Coach, Nick Bonino took a little bit of warmup last night. What was his feedback on how close he came? In the meantime, with him out, what have you thought of Carter Rowney's play at center?
MIKE SULLIVAN: Obviously, he didn't feel strong enough as though he felt he could help our team win. That's why the decision was made not to put him in the lineup. He's certainly a tough guy to replace for us. He's an important guy to our team.

I think the guys that have been in the lineup have done a commendable job. I think Carter Rowney has played some really strong minutes for us. He's a good center iceman. He's a good faceoff guy. He has good size and he's strong. It gives us some strength down the middle. He's a good penalty killer. He brings a physical element to his game, as well, that helps our team.

We've been really pleased with how Carter's played here throughout the course of this playoffs.

Q. Mike, you talked yesterday morning about liking pairings, then sort of back-filling that third spot on a line. I went through Sid's pairings. He's been with Jake, Conor, Bryan, Kris, Carl and Patric. He hasn't spent a lot of time with Phil Kessel. Anything there that you like to keep them separate or what your logic is behind that?
MIKE SULLIVAN: Well, our experience as a staff has been that there hasn't been a ton of chemistry between the two when they have been together. We have thrown them together at times. We also believe that when we do separate them, we tend to create better balance amongst our group, that makes us more difficult to play against.

There's a number of reasons for the decisions that we made surrounding that. But that probably, in a nutshell, sums it up. So Phil has shown some chemistry with Geno. We have played them together a fair amount. That's probably been Phil's most significant -- that's the pair that have spent the most time together because we believe they've had some chemistry or have shown some chemistry in the past. We've utilized that pair a lot.

As I said, I think the balance we have when we have the ability to spread those guys makes us a much more difficult team to play against.

Q. On goaltending, you scored eight on Rinne in the first two games. They scored eight on Matt in the next two games. In general, in this series, do you think goaltending has played an inordinate impact on things or just standard playoff stuff as you see it?
MIKE SULLIVAN: Well, I think the goaltending position can be such an important position by nature of how the game's played. Certainly I thought last night, you know, it was a case we felt as though Matt had a solid game, but Pekka Rinne had a tremendous game.

I think maybe early in the series, you could probably point in the other direction. These guys do have an impact on their team's ability to have success. I think that's the nature of playoff hockey. That's the nature of hockey in general. So it's such an important position, you know, by nature. It might be the most important position in all of sports because that position can single-handedly change the outcome of a game, as we've seen on a number of different occasions throughout the course of this playoffs, with all different series.

We believe in the guys that we have. We've got -- we think, one of the strengths of our team is in our goaltending position. So we just got to try to do our best to focus on the things that we can control, and that's that one game in front of us.

Q. Mike, it seems like you haven't received the same amount of secondary scoring as you did a year ago, which probably should be expected at this point. Last year you had three lines that could have been considered a top line. This late in a playoff run, is there anything you can do to get more out of your top two lines?
MIKE SULLIVAN: Well, we've done a fair amount of tweaking of lines and combinations to try to create the balanced attack that we think makes us the most dangerous to play against.

The secondary scoring is an important aspect of winning at this time of year. It's an important aspect of winning at any time of year, for that matter. I think any time a team has the ability to get scoring throughout its lineup, I think that team becomes a lot more difficult to play against.

So we have tried to as a coaching staff be proactive, move people around, tweak our line combinations from game to game to try to look for and create that balanced attack.

We'll continue to do that until we find it. But certainly moving forward here in the rest of this series, if we can find that secondary scoring, it certainly helps our chances.

Q. Coach, you mentioned earlier that goaltending wasn't the issue in Game 4. Where did you think that things went wrong? How do you learn from this one and use it to your advantage in Game 5?
MIKE SULLIVAN: As I mentioned after the game last night, there are some goals that are scored because good players make good plays, and you're playing against a good team. Sometimes that happens. Then there are other circumstances where goals are scored where, as a team or a coaching staff, we feel we can do a better job in avoiding those situations.

There were one or two of them in the game last night that we felt we could have done a much better job. We think they were preventable goals. If we make certain reads in those situations, we're going to learn from those experiences.

Having said that, when you look at the second period, we get four grade A scoring chances in the first three and a half minutes of the period, and the puck doesn't go in for us. We're not going to overthink this as a coaching staff. That game that was played last night was a whole lot closer than the score indicated. At least that's how we feel, that's what we believe based on what we watched.

We just think we're going to make sure we continue to focus on those things that we can control, and we believe that we have some guys that are due to score some goals here. They've had some high-quality chances, and the puck hasn't gone in the net for the last couple of games. We believe if we continue to try to do the right things out there, we'll score.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you for your time.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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