Penguins expect Tampa Bay's best game Saturday
The Penguins find themselves in very good position in their Eastern Conference quarterfinal with the Lightning, up 3-1 with Game 5 at home at the Consol Energy Center.
And while the odds are against Tampa Bay overcoming this big of a hole, Pittsburgh believes it will have its hands full trying to close the series out.
"We have to consciously know it's going to be the hardest one yet," center Michael Rupp said of Game 5. "There's going to be nothing but fight from their team, and we need to match it. We expect them to come with the best hockey they played in this series."
Penguins coach Dan Bylsma pointed out after Friday's practice that even though they won in double overtime Wednesday, Tampa Bay had every opportunity to pull it out, especially with two third period power plays and one in overtime.
"I expect them to play their best in (Game 5), I expect them to be dangerous again from their skill players and what they can do," Bylsma said. "And their ability to step up in teh game, their power play is a very dangerous unit. You feel like you do a godo job for 50-55 minutes, and it's not enough with players like that."
The Lightning has a little bit of history on its side Saturday, as Bylsma was reminded every playoff series he's won has been closed out on the road. The road team has won three of the four games this series.
"My son has told me, I'm oh-fer at closing at home," Bylsma said. "Home ice is something you want, you want your fans there, you want to be able to have that last change. There are things about home ice you want to have, but it doesn't guarantee you sucess in the playoffs. We don't get to move on until you win four, and neither of us have got to that yet."
*There's been no update on star Sidney Crosby (concussion), who hasn't practiced the past couple days. But while the storyline going into the series was Pittsburgh having to play without Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, the story for the Penguins so far is their unsung heroes, the fourth-line of Arron Asham, Michael Rupp and Craig Adams.
The trio has four of the team's 10 goals, scoring at least once in each game, and are a combined plus-12.
"They've earned more minutes, and earned that opportunity," Bylsma said. "Not only have they earned the opportunity, but I've put them out in key situations after goals - in Game 1 where they go out and end up scoring the second goal right away. In situations where our team needs momentum, needs a big shift, they've been put out there and they've done that and been a big factor for us."