The Pittsburgh Penguins are all business entering action tonight at Nassau Coliseum on Long Island.
If the Penguins lose in Game 6, history is working against them, and they know it.
In Pittsburgh history, the Penguins have played in 13 Game 7s. The team that won Game 6 has won 12 of those Games 7s.
The Penguins have also never defeated the Islanders in a series, losing all three times they've met. In fact, the Penguins have twice - in 1975 and 1993 - had the opportunity to eliminate the Islanders in Game 6 of a series in New York, failing both times only to then fall at home in Game 7.
For a number of reasons, the Penguins want nothing to do with a Game 7, which would be played on Sunday at 7 if the Penguins fall to New York on Saturday.
Pittsburgh's all-time record in Games 7s at home is 2-6.
Also, the Penguins realize that if they lose Game 6, the Islanders will suddenly have momentum and will have the benefit of playing 24 hours later.
The Islanders, much younger than the suddenly veteran Penguins, would likely have the fresher legs in a Game 7, as well.
"Obviously it's important for us to attempt to put them away in Game 6," defenceman Kris Letang said. "We aren't even thinking about a Game 7."
Penguins coach Dan Bylsma echoed those thoughts on Saturday afternoon, explaining that the Penguins only have three periods to close this series, not six.
Vokoun between the pipes
In the ultimate no-brainer, the Penguins will begin Game 6 with Tomas Vokoun between the pipes. Bylsma really had no other decision to make.
Vokoun recorded a shutout in Game 5, stopping all 31 New York shots. The regular starter, Marc-Andre Fleury, looked rattled in Games 2-4 and can't be expected to play during the remainder of this series. Still, many in the Penguins organization believe that, if the Penguins are able to escapes their first round series with the Islanders, Fleury will eventually find himself back in net during this spring.
The Islanders are hoping one of their most important players will be able to dress this evening.
Centre Frans Neilsen, who is often asked to shadow Penguins star Sidney Crosby, missed the final 30 minutes of Game 5 because of a lower-body injury.
He participated in New York's morning skate and noted that he wants to play in Game 6, but said he hasn't been given final clearance by the New York coaching staff to do so.
Both teams look likely to use the same lineups that were present in Game 5. New York's lineup has essentially been the same all series.
Pittsburgh, however, made significant changes before Game 5 and will use the same lineup. This means the fourth line will consist of Joe Vitale, Craig Adams and Tyler Kennedy, who scored a big goal on Thursday.
Also, rookie Simon Despres will again replace veteran Mark Eaton, who has struggled with New York's speed in this series.
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