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May 23, 2006
EDMONTON, ALBERTA: Game Three
p class="MsoNormal"> JAMEY HORAN: Questions for the coach.
Q. First off, Craig, I guess what's it's like on the bench for you to be part of that as you're seeing what's happening out on the ice?
COACH MacTAVISH: Well, you just see the whole game evolve from the start. It was quite clear early that we didn't have any jump at all. And you know, Rollie kept us in the game through two periods, and the fact that we're up 1-0 after two periods was really a testament to his ability and the way that he played. And, you know, you just -- as a coach, you're just -- you know that the energy level of your team and you know it's know it's going to be difficult to win the game, and yet you find yourself in the position where you're leading going into the third period.
And I figured at the time I said to Charlie and Simer and Billy that I felt we needed another goal, but I didn't think we'd need four. We capitalized on our chances and built the 4-0 lead, but at no point was I comfortable when it was 4-0, because I knew the energy level of our team.
And then they get the first one and the momentum shifts completely. And then it was -- we were struggling to stay into it. And when you spend that much time in your own zone, bad things are going to happen and they did. The one off Todd's foot and then the top of net. But that's what happens when you're a tired group. Even the, I guess it was the third goal came around the boards and Gator was exhausted and Fernando could have got to the puck, but he thought Jason was going to get to it, and they grab it and it end up in it the back of our net at that point. So it was a wild game, but we feel fortunate to have won the game, obviously.
I've been in those situations before where I haven't won, and at the end of the day, it's a win. We need some rest and we got to come in here Thursday with some fresher legs.
Q. I just wanted to ask about you about that with the next game Thursday. Mac T, the condition physically of your club and the fact that the flu bug is there, what do we expect for Thursday? Can you get over this?
COACH MacTAVISH: Well, we'll address it with personnel, but we won't have nearly the amount of players playing tonight that aren't a hundred percent. And we've got lots of bodies, lots of fresh bodies, and it's quite clearly we survived Game 2 in Anaheim, and, you know, we barely survived tonight, but we don't want to go into Game 4 with anything but a bunch of fresh legs.
Q. Craig, were you surprised by the level of the Ducks' physicality early in the game, how physical they were? And if not physicality with Vishnevski, did that cost them the lead, that's been very important throughout the course of this series?
COACH MacTAVISH: Well, I mean, that happens. When you think it's -- one the things of playoff hockey is that you never want to play yourself out of a game regardless of what the score is. We saw it last night in Carolina when Carolina gets the fourth goal and then, sure enough, Buffalo comes back with two.
And when we got the fourth goal, I mean, you just never want to put yourself in that situation. You never know what's going to happen in NHL playoff hockey. So you never want to give that next goal because you know sure enough you're going to come back and lose by one.
I was surprised with the way they wanted to play early on in the hockey game. That's surprised me to a certain degree, but I felt like they were going to take penalties early, and with the way that, you know, I thought the game was going to go, I thought that could be really beneficial to us.
They remained -- they played physical and played pretty disciplined, took the first penalty early. But they're a team that has a lot of pride, obviously. And, you know, they came out and they weren't going to back down and they weren't going to fold their tent. And you have to give them credit for the way they came out at the start of the game and credit to their coaching staff.
Q. Given the energy level of your team right now, Craig, how important is it to wrap it up on Thursday?
COACH MacTAVISH: Well, right now, you know, I'm just real happy that we got the game tonight. We'll -- I'm better informed as to what we needed to do going into -- like our best players were early. Our forwards were Rem Murray and Toby Petersen were skating, and you get into a dilemma as a coach where you know these guys are fresh and skating and they're performing at a high level, but you're also thinking that, "Hey, I got to go with what I've gone with before and the reliability." And it was a little bit of a Catch 22. I mean, in hindsight, I should have cut some of our other guys back that weren't feeling well and got with Rem more and Toby and even Georges played really well I thought.
But it's going to be a tough task on Thursday again. But it would be very important for us to get that game and get some rest because we got to regroup a little bit physically now.
Q. What did you think of Georges given the thumbs up on the jump ever --
COACH MacTAVISH: I'm never a big advocate of that. That stuff, you know, always comes back to haunt you. And Georges has never -- he did that in the Simon fight against Calgary, which was -- seemed like a more appropriate time. But, he just -- you really -- I've been around long enough that you know that you can look awful foolish and why give them the opportunity. So I don't foresee him doing that again.
Q. Craig, can you just talk about what you're seeing out of Michael Peca and him stepping his game up at just the right time?
COACH MacTAVISH: Yeah. It looks like another huge goal. Great goal. Break-away goal. Blocked the terrific shot himself at the top corner, and you know, it looked like it was going to be the insurance goal and should have been given the circumstances of the game. But he's played exceptionally well. And he's played lots of hockey. Our team has played lots of hockey. We played ten games in an every-other-day stretch, and it's taking its toll on us right now, and we've got to win the game Thursday and get the horses to the barn and get a little rest.
Q. Craig, did you watch the tapes of the Colorado series against Anaheim and did you pick up things about Anaheim that helped you in this series?
COACH MacTAVISH: Well, they've been three close games and the Anaheim/Colorado wasn't as close as what this series has been to this point. They played very similarly to the way they played tonight where they were a dominate team down low, they cycled the puck, and took it to the net. And they had lots of success against Colorado in that series. And we saw them play obviously against Calgary, too, and they had similar success in those areas.
JAMEY HORAN: Anything further. Thank you, Coach.
First question for Fernando Pisani or Chris?
Q. That third period when they goaltender back into the game was, that you or was that them? What was going on there?
CHRIS PRONGER: Probably a little bit of both. You know, you look at the goals they got, a few were just, you know, lack of focus, you know, kind of loose plays in our end and pucks getting turned over, and them beating us to the punch and getting loose pucks and scoring a goal. And, you know, they got a couple bounces, the puck just went right to them, and they were able to get it by Rollie. You look at that fourth goal, get's tipped, and it goes up on a skate, then over Rollie's shoulder. Those are the types of goals they were getting. It wasn't like they were getting tic tack toe goals, but those were the ones you're going to get, especially with a comeback like they had.
Q. Fernando, when your team's on the ropes, it's 4-3, you score a goal or maybe get a couple lucky bounces just on the goal, do you start to believe maybe it's destiny?
FERNANDO PISANI: Well, I think you've got to work for every opportunity you get and I think we did a good job of, you know, in the first two periods of just getting the puck in deep. In the third, we sat back, and I think, you know, it's a matter of being in the right position at the right time, and sometimes the bounces do go your way.
Q. Chris, the second Western Finals, but now your one step away from your first Cup finals. What's it going to be like for you over the next couple days realizing you're so close?
CHRIS PRONGER: Well, that's just it. We're close, we're in the there. We can't get ahead of ourselves. You look at the amount of guys that played through a lot of adversity tonight and in Game 2, as well. Pretty proud of the way we not only stood up for ourselves, we battled through a lot of different stuff through the course of the game today. Just shows the character in the locker room. Each guy is playing for one another in there and guys are doing whatever it takes, playing hurt, sick, whatever the case may be.
You know, we've got a chance to close them out on Thursday, but I'm sure they're going to have a lot to say about it, especially with the way they finished the game today.
Q. I'd like the get both of your opinions, Mac T's indicated he's got to have some fresh legs for the game on Thursday. He indicated that you're perhaps more tired than it might even appear on the ice?
FERNANDO PISANI: Well, I think when you're battling out there, you got to find a way to win those battles. And if you're sick or hurt, or whatever, it doesn't matter. Once you get on the ice, you have to find a way to get the puck out or get the puck in or win the one-on-one battles.
CHRIS PRONGER: I think at the end of day, you look at the score, it's 5-4 with one minute fifteen to go, they call a time out. It's cut-check time for us and making sure we're leaving it all on the ice and not having to go back into the locker room and come back out again. To have a 4-0 lead and then have it squandered, and then get back up 5-3, that would have been pretty disheartening for us to have to come back out and have to play overtime.
And Rollie played unbelievable in the first two periods, and in the third period made some great saves to keep the score the way it was.
Q. Chris, were you surprised how physical Anaheim was and how frustrating was it being a bigger man having guys that during the course of the regular season don't play an overly physical game taking runs at you and taking runs at your goaltender?
CHRIS PRONGER: I think in watching the other two series, they were not as physical in the first two games. Obviously coming in here for Game 3, they wanted to play a more physical style of game. You know, I think they were trying to intimidate us, there's no question, in that first period, and it wasn't working. They wanted to get to Rollie, I'm sure, and bump and hit him and do all the things that teams do when they're down.
That's up to the referees to call that stuff. We can't get caught up in that too much. We did earlier in the first, and after that, I think we kind of settled down and left that in the referees' hands.
Q. Fernando, talk to me about the chemistry on your line with Michael Peca? Sure seems you're playing pretty well as units.
FERNANDO PISANI: Mike's such a smart player and he's always in the right position at the right time. We kind of feed off each other. Even if it's in our end or down low in the other end, he tries to find me in the slot, in the soft areas, and I just try to get open. We've been fortunate it's been working for us.
JAMEY HORAN: Thank you, gentlemen.
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