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May 20, 1997

Mark Messier


MARK MESSIER: We got a little anxious. We fought pretty hard to get back into the game. And, I think got a little overanxious to take the lead and -- but, you know, we got behind the eight ball. We had to play from behind. Fortunately got ourselves back in the game, but were a little disappointed. We felt we had pretty good control when we did tie it up 3-3. We were getting some good opportunities, and then they come right back and score their 4th and 5th. More than anything, we are a little disappointed we let it slip away from us.

Q. How about the injuries; affected by it?

MARK MESSIER: No, not all. We got a system to play, and we have accepted the fact that things like this happen during the season. And we are not talking about it or using it as an excuse or anything else. We have got guys that are playing hard and coming in and filling the roles and feel good about our team right now.

Q. They jumped on you 2 nothing right at the start.

MARK MESSIER: They get the puck deep and then we ended up taking 2 penalties right off the bat. Shots were 9 to 1. But not only -- usually when the team who draws a couple of penalties early is going to have the advantage in shots. So we settled down, I thought, and got back in the game, finally, with the powerplay goal. But, you know, we can do some things better, certainly, defensively and wait for our opportunities.

Q. The comeback ability of this team, what began to click in the third period? You guys seemed to come right out.

MARK MESSIER: We had some great chances in the second period, too. A couple of real good missed opportunities. And finally just got the puck, the powerplay goal early, and that seemed to get us going again. And then we are one shot away, and, you know, it is a game -- the games are going to be close, and we know we are always there, and, within one or two shots. And that is the way you've got to think about it. But, like I say, we are just a little disappointed that when we finally battled back, that we let it slip away.

Q. How do you feel tonight?

MARK MESSIER: We feel good. We really felt that other than early in the first period, you know, we kept things under control. You know, they are a good team, and they are going to create chances. And, they did that again tonight. But we battled back, and we are in the game 3-3. So it was just a little disappointing to let it slip away.

Q. Is it possible given who you have on your team now to play 60 minutes of what --

MARK MESSIER: I can't remember who said it yesterday, one of the -- I think it was Phil Jackson or whatever, "There is no defense that is going to completely stop everything." I mean, there is -- always going to give up something, and depending on which way you decide to play. But, overall, we feel the way we are playing now is the best for us. And, you know, you have got to give them some credit, too. They have got some guys that are great players and are making things happen. But, overall, you know, we are pretty happy the way we played. Obviously, battling back tonight in the third period and letting it slip away, we are a little disappointed and at mad ourselves, actually.

Q. The physical aspects of this series, it seems like a lot of guys are getting hurt in this series.

MARK MESSIER: Well, that is, you know, good, hard hockey. And we've got to. That is why you have lots of bodies around.

Q. How do you feel to combat that, the fact that guys are getting hurt?

MARK MESSIER: You can't do -- you have to have guys come in and play.


MARK MESSIER: There is nothing wrong with our goaltending whatsoever. We gave him 2 on 1 a breakaway, and I think a screen shot from -- second or third one. So, there is nothing wrong with Ricky, our goaltending. We have to show up our defensive play a little bit better in front of him and give him the opportunity to shine like he was.

Q. The call down from the replay, did that surprise you a little bit, the first goal?

MARK MESSIER: Well, that is, you know, that is why the replay is there. He can't argue with that. You know, that is what the video replays are for. They went back and reviewed it and even though the clock ticked off, it was a real call, so, we have no problem with that. Obviously we would have liked to have scored first, but other than the fact that because they reviewed it and came back and had the goal didn't have any affect on us.

Q. Talk about the confidence level of the team even though you are down 2 to 1?

MARK MESSIER: We are really confident tell you that for sure. We really feel good about it the way we are playing. We have got a little bit sloppy tonight. But, overall, we felt that we had a chance to win the game tonight. And, if anything, you would have to say we are a little mad at ourselves for letting it slip away.

Q. Did you do anything differently --

MARK MESSIER: We are playing pretty much the same.

Q. -- compared to the other series?

MARK MESSIER: We made some mistakes tonight.

Q. How much did it hurt not to have some players?

MARK MESSIER: Those are things you have to overcome. There are a lot of things along the way that a team has to overcome and, you know, unexpected thing with Karpovstev, but he has got to take his family and things like that that are the most important and, you know, it was a big blow to anybody, the day when something like that happens to your teammate, but, you know, those things are just things along the way that you have to rally around each other and overcome.

Q. The momentum on Sunday, the way you won at Philadelphia, does the momentum swing back to Philadelphia now?

MARK MESSIER: I guess if you look at the games, they are up 2-1, so it would have been nice to win this game, but we got two days off now and I don't think momentum will have be a factor come game 4.

Q. (inaudible) What do you think you can do more to really get into the --

MARK MESSIER: We will look at, you know, I am sure the coaches will have some video clips for us to look at and so, come up with something.

Q. Talk about Eric's game tonight.

MARK MESSIER: He had a solid game tonight. He really did. He played a lot. And he was involved and he played an excellent game.

Q. Seems like the -- Gretzky, yourself the other night, Lindros, seems like the Stars are really stepping up in the series?

MARK MESSIER: Wayne played excellent again game 2. Eric has played, I thought, real good in all three games, and they got a lot -- they have got a good team. A lot of guys over there you have got to pay attention to.

Q. How difficult is it watching Brian knowing what he can do? And how difficult is it for him right now?

MARK MESSIER: Well, those are things that just happen along the way. I mean, there is not a thing you can do about it. It happens. You know, we are not going to sit here and make any excuses. He played tonight and played hard.

Q. You are up against Lindros on empty net. You are a very big guy, and that is a tree --

MARK MESSIER: He comes out of his own zone with speed like that, you know, it would take a team of horses to stop him. So that is -- he has good momentum, good speed going on the chase. So it is not much to do there.

Q. Were you surprised at all how they were able to turn it around?

MARK MESSIER: I mean, we gave up, breakaway and 2 on 1, so that makes you look pretty calm.

Q. A lot of new faces?

MARK MESSIER: Those guys have been around and are great players, and they know the way we are trying to play. So there is no time for any getting used to the game.

End of FastScripts...

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