Here's what the Pens were saying heading into Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Final against Ottawa (note: the players spoke before head coach Mike Sullivan announced that Matt Murray would start in goal).
Fleury had been nothing short of brilliant in stepping in for an injured Murray (lower body), lifting the Penguins past Columbus and Washington and stopping 56 of 58 shots versus Ottawa in the first two games before getting shredded for four goals on nine shots in the first period in a 5-1 loss on Wednesday. Ottawa Senators right wing Bobby Ryan (9) deflects a shot on net as Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Matt Murray (30) makes a save during the second period of game three of the Eastern Conference final in the NHL Stan.
With approximately two minutes left in the second, Kyle Turris made it 5-0 for the home team, with a nifty little deke that got the best of Murray. Setting up the play was Crosby, who had an urgency to his game which had been lacking early this series (one goal, no assists). The NHL's highest-scoring team has found the going significantly tougher against the Senators and surging goaltender Craig Anderson.
Coach Guy Boucher wouldn't say if he was going to make any changes. So we never take these decisions lightly.
Banged up or not, with or without Fleury in the net, they simply have to start scoring. You certainly take that for what it's worth, and you move on because Game 4 is not going to be that. "Both of these guys handle the decisions that we make extremely professionally". The Penguins eventually went on to lose by a score of 5-1, with frustration brewing in the locker room after the game.
Ottawa usually wins games by one or two goals but they came into Wednesday's contest knowing they had to create more offense, after failing to register a shot on goal for nearly 19 minutes in a game two loss on Monday.
ABOUT THE SENATORS (54-32-7-4, 38-52 O/U): Ottawa's 1-3-1 system is largely responsible for flustering Pittsburgh, although defenseman Chris Wideman was quick to point out that it's a group effort as opposed to individual play. "I think we had a good start and they had a poor one. I put that one behind already and I'll be ready to go". Yes, Pittsburgh is banged up, but that has been true for much of the postseason and figures to be without a trio of forwards, including Bryan Rust and Patric Hornqvist, for Game 4 as well.
Mike Hoffman, deciding that shooting from in front of the net is such a cliché, banked a shot off of the pads of Penguins netminder Marc-André Fleury into the back of the Pittsburgh net. They're extremely hard decisions.
In question now is whether Sullivan turns to Murray, who helped deliver the Pens a Cup last season and was excellent in his first full National Hockey League season, for Game 4 or goes back to Fleury.
"It's always a big boost when your coach has the confidence in you to play a game like this, especially after so long", Murray said. "We scored some goals". But like I said before, all I can really do is kind of jump in and try not to think about it.
"We simply have to be better". Fleury was pulled after allowing four goals in the first thirteen minutes of Game 3. It probably wasn't because we went to seven with the Flyers.