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Penguins know they need to play better from behind

06.05.13 at 2:23 pm ET
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The Penguins have one goal this series entering Game 3. (AP)

Two years ago, scoring the goal didn’t necessarily mean anything huge early in the Eastern Conference. The team that scored the first goal between the Bruins and Lightning went 2-3 in the first five games of the season, proving that getting on the board early is important, but it isn’t everything.

That hasn’t been the case this year. In two games, the Bruins have scored the first goal and eventually seen the Penguins go through lifeless stretches as they struggle to play from behind. Pittsburgh had just 13 shots on goal through the first two periods in Game 2, and the chances they got were limited.

So the Penguins enter Game 3 knowing that if they fall behind Wednesday, they can’t pack it in. Remember, this is the same team that came back from a 2-0 deficit against the Bruins with three goals to win in regulation on March 12. They have it within to be a team that plays well from behind, but they just haven’t done it thus far.

“I think the latter half of the games was us deviating from the plan,” Dan Bylsma said of the first two games of the series. “Boston was up at that point in both those hockey games, playing very well and getting to the scoreboard early in contests and then playing well the rest of the way and us, the latter half of both games, looking for offense, pressing the issue and getting away from our game plan.”

Pascal Dupuis said Wednesday that playing from behind against the Bruins is especially difficult because of how much the B’s clog the middle once they’re ahead. That makes the Penguins’ job tougher offensively and forces them to make more chances, which then leads to turnovers. That, partially, can explain just how lopsided the scoring has been (9-1).

Obviously, the Penguins need goals any way they can get them. They’d like the first goal, but if they can’t get it they still need to generate more offense than they have. Sidney Crosby, like Bylsma, feels that the key is to not try anything drastically different once they fall behind.

“We don’t have to chase it,” Crosby said. “I don’t think we need to try to get that one back with one big play, if that’s the case. I think we believe in our game, trust in our game. The regular season would be a good example of that. We’re down 2-0 and it takes a while to finally get that first one, but we just stuck with things. It’s more about the process of the game and playing the right way than maybe the results right away.”

From the Bruins’ perspective, scoring first has meant good things, so they obviously view getting on the board early as a key to potentially taking a 3-0 series lead Wednesday.

“In any game, the first goal is always a good one to get,” Milan Lucic said. “It kinds of builds momentum, builds confidence, but the series is still early. Fortunately we were able to get the first goals in both games, and it’s going to be a big one, whoever gets it tonight.”

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