PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The Penguins are on the brink of elimination, down 3-0 against the Islanders in round one.
Late Monday morning, the team decided not to take the ice at the UPMC Lemieux Complex in Cranberry. This after the practice was intially pushed back an hour from 11:00 a.m. to noon.
Head coach Mike Sullivan and select players were available to speak with the media Monday afternoon instead. Sullivan said rest was a key to canceling the skate.
“We’ve skated eight days in a row and the month of March we played a lot of games every other day,” Sullivan said. “We did have a meeting and discussed some things. I think it was productive.”
“Mike Sullivan said canceling practice was more about rest than anything else. Said they eyed this as a potential off-day before the series started.”
Defenseman Justin Schultz says team speed, which was prominent in the 2016 and 2017 cup runs, is lacking as of late.
“Our identity has changed over the years,” Schultz said. “We play fast and get the puck up quick. That’s what we do best. We haven’t done that this series.”
Captain Sidney Crosby says the team has to take the series game-by-game at this point.
“We talked about as a group what we have to do mentally and physically to win a game tomorrow,” Crosby said. “That’s all we can control. We can’t get all those games back at once. You have to trust what’s gotten you to this point, also learn from the games. “It’s not the position that you want to be in, but I would love to be a part of a team that comes back from that.”
“Right now our team is looking at one game,” Coach Sullivan said. “We’re going to try to win one game. That’s the mindset. I believe in the group that we have. These guys are capable of great things.”
The team knows the challenge ahead of them. Only four NHL teams have ever come back to win a playoff series down 3-0. They are as follows.
– 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs (Ended up winning cup)
– 1975 New York Islanders (defeated Penguins)
– 2010 Philadelphia Flyers
– 2014 Los Angeles Kings (Ended up winning cup)
Goalie Matt Murray realizes the odd are stacked against Pittsburgh.
“All we have in front of us is one game,” Murray said. “Before that we have a morning skate we have to prepare for. We’re not going to get ahead of ourselves. We’re in a tough spot. All we can do is worry about playing the right way and let the results take care of itself.”
The Penguins are not the only Eastern Conference team in the same boat at this point in the playoffs. The Tampa Bay Lightning, who won the Presidents’ Trophy for earning the most points in the regular season with 128, is on the ropes down 3-0 against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Columbus earned the 8th seed or second wild card in the East to get into the playoffs.
The Pens will try once more to earn a win when they host the Isles once again Tuesday night at PPG Paints Arena. Puck drop is slated for 7:30 p.m.