Andrei Svechnikov’s goal late in the third period made the difference at the end of a back-and-forth, tight-checking game.
The game-winning-goal scorer talked to the media after the win, as did Rod Brind’Amour, Vincent Trocheck, and Frederik Andersen.
Here’s what they had to say:
On if he was happy with how the game played out with a lot of tight five-on-five play: I’m happy with any type of game, as long as we’re playing it right. Sometimes the score doesn’t really dictate how it’s going. Tonight, I was really happy with this game. It felt like we were in control of it, at least from the coaching side of it. It was a tight game and we didn’t get the bounce there in the third, so maybe it’s not going to go our way, but I love how our guys sticking with the plan. Just kept going and going. A couple of individual efforts were really great, obviously, but I thought our team game was really solid.
On how he looks at how the team has met their expectations so far this season: We’re not looking at that. It’s halfway through that season. Great. We’re halfway through the race. We’re in a good spot and we've gotten this far really well. I’m proud of the group and how hard they work. How they come to practice and play every night. Like I said, we're halfway through this race, and then there's another race that we’ll get on and get to later. Up to this point, I’m really happy with the group.
On if he’s excited to hit the town in Vegas during All-Star festivities: Yeah... no. No. That’s... it is what it is. It’s my obligation, so I gotta show up. I’m going to try to enjoy it, being around some good athletes that I’ve never been around. That’s how I look at it. I’m just going to be standing there and watching them just like you guys at home, right? It’ll be nice to see them live and in-person, some of these guys that you have to coach against and gameplan against.
On if he’s pleased with how the team performed in the last four games before the break: What else can you do, right? You look at every game on an individual basis. We had our ups and downs in there, which you're going to have, but it felt like every game it was a different story and different guys stepped up. Different guys played well to get us wins and I thought everyone contributed, especially tonight. Each game had its own different flair, but at the end of the day, you’re about winning games.
On the effort that the team plays with every night: Obviously, that’s what we pride ourselves on. Every team says the same things, and we’re no different, but you have to back it up. I think these guys, you have to be proud of their effort. That’s one of the things, from day one, we want to make sure, win or lose, that you can walk out and that the people paying their money to come and watch you can say they got their money’s worth. I feel like this group takes that to heart.
On how the team played against the Sharks: I thought it was a great game, overall. I thought we defended well, goalie played well. We created a lot of opportunities, but just didn’t quite cash in, but we were around it all night. It’s one of the better games that I thought we’ve played because we didn’t get frustrated and we stuck to what we wanted to do. We could have been better in areas, but the other team is a good team and they’ve played really well lately. It was a good test and I thought we answered it well.
On Andrei Svechnikov and how they keep him on the track of getting better: You know this kid. You don’t have to do anything with this guy. You just have to tell him where to be and what time the game is and make sure he’s got that figured out. He wants to win and he’s competitive, sometimes maybe a little too much, but I think he’s starting to figure that out. He’s just a tremendous athlete, person, player, everything. We’re excited with him. Is he gonna keep getting better? Yeah, it’s hard to believe, but I think he still can get better.
On Brett Pesce’s injury late in the game and if he got a skate to the chest/arm: Yeah. He got a skate in that area. Thankfully, that’s the best place to get one of those. You have a lot of padding there, so I think he’ll be fine.
On the goalie play through 41 games: They’ve been phenomenal. I feel like we’ve played well all year, but there are obviously times... our record speaks for itself, and I think our record is that good because our goaltending has won us a bunch of games where we weren’t that great or the other team was better or it was even. And yet we’re pulling out these victories because our goaltending has been that good. We have a good team, but I think our goaltending has been a difference-maker.
On if it’s good to have games like this that are close: Yeah, definitely. This is the kind of atmosphere you’re going to get in the playoffs, the kind of games where it’s tight 1-0, 2-0 type games. To have these back to back, these are the games we want to win. We want to win 1-0, 2-1 and keep the puck out of the net as much as we possibly can. Tonight’s game was a good example of how we want to play.
On how he would assess the first half of the season: I think there’s room for improvement. We obviously like where we stand. We’ve done a pretty good job in the first half, but there’s definitely room for improvement. We think we can get better from here.
On if he’s happy there’s a break now or on if maybe they wish they could keep playing with the way things are going: I think either way. It’s nice to have a break, obviously. This far into the season guys are going to be banged up and need some rest. It will be good for us to get away from the game a little bit.
On how he plans on using the break: Rest. Rest up as much as possible. I’m going to head home tomorrow to Pittsburgh to see the family for a bit, and then I’ll get away for a little bit.
On getting these four wins before the break: Yeah, it’s always nice to have a nice stretch where you’re winning games. Our second half of the season is going to be a tough schedule, so we’re going to need to be prepared for that. This first little stretch was a good test.
On using knowledge of James Reimer to help score his goal: Nah, I was just trying to shoot through a screen there.
On his goal: We tried to just shoot on the net. Obviously after a faceoff I try to go to the net. It was my ice, and I didn’t want to give it. It was a rebound, a lucky one for me, and I just put it in the net.
On how valuable this stretch of winning close games is: For sure, that’s great. I felt like it was playoff hockey there. Especially with the last three or four games, it was 2-1 and very close with the scores. It’s a grind. We stuck with it this game, and that’s why it was a success tonight.
On if he’s happy there’s a break now or on if maybe they wish they could keep playing with the way things are going: Well, we’ve got the break, so it’s always nice to have the break. We’re still going to stay in shape, and after the break we’re going come out hard for sure...I’m going to Florida.
On the confidence in the goaltending: It’s huge confidence. I don’t know what to say. I said last time that he’s a superstar. He is. He’s playing a really good game. He’s going to keep doing that, and obviously we’ve got big confidence in him.
On what they’ve done well at the halfway point and on what they need to improve on: We’ve won lots of games. We’ve just got to keep doing that and living day by day. Always getting better every day, like [Brind’Amour] is always saying. We’ve got to do that and play a team game, for sure.
On the importance of winning these tight games: I don’t really think about that too much. We just try to play our game and not really think about what the score is too much. Obviously, if we’re down or tied we want to try to get the next one. As a whole, we try to play that style of hockey the whole time and let the game play out as it goes. Usually when we play our best, it usually goes in our favor. I think most teams will say that, but the last couple of games it has.
On how he would assess things at the midway point of the season: I’m not really here to assess anything at this point. We’re just trying to do our best every day. I think that culture has been incredible here, and it’s something that has been fun to be a part of. We’ve just got to keep doing that every day and see where it leads us.
On how he would define the culture: I think we’re just dedicated to doing what it takes. There will be pretty plays out there, but I don’t think we go out there to look for them. We try to be the most successful at it. I think that’s when we’re at our best, when we stick to that game plan. We will see a lot of cool, fun goals, but our mindset is defense first.
On if he’s looking forward to Vegas: Yeah, it should be a fun week. Obviously we’ve got a few days before it. It should be a good time. The weather is a bit warmer than it is here, so I’ll be able to swing the clubs a little bit and get away from it all.
On if the goal for this team is to win the Stanley Cup: Yeah, that’s everyone’s goal, but we can’t do that today. We’re sticking to that game plan, trying to be the best we can every day. That’s the path.