The captain, Jordan Staal, put the team in his back with a two-goal performance and Andrei Svechnikov scored the overtime winner.
After the game, Rod Brind’Amour along with Vincent Trocheck, Andrei Svechnikov and Jordan Staal spoke to the media. Here’s what they had to say:
On pinpointing a turning point in the game: I thought we were good in the first period, we just gave them the first one. They made good plays, give them credit, but it was on our stick and we gave it to them. There were three or four shifts they dominated in the first period, but that’s what happens. We weren’t smart with the puck there, but the rest of the time we were really good. The second period on, we didn’t make it easy for them. Made them work for what they got. That was the secret.
On needing an emotional game: It’s tough this time of year. So many games just coming one after another. It’s hard to bring it every night, but obviously at our rink it helps. Come in here and the building’s electric and against that opponent too, it helps.
On Vincent Trocheck being an agitator: I think you’re right. Everyone has different personalities and how they play. You want to be competitive and he’s got an extra gear in him. That was what we saw tonight.
On if the team responds positively to ramping up the physicality: I don’t think our game changes. We just adapt to whatever we need to. I think that’s one of the strengths of the group. I just thought tonight was a great effort by everybody. Hands down. No passengers. Everyone was playing their hardest. Doesn’t always work out as you know, but tonight I think we got what we deserved.
On Jordan Staal bringing it to another level against the Penguins: You’ll have to ask him about all that, but he’s good. His line could have had a few more, but there were some weird things going on around the net. Then they get one they probably shouldn’t have. It was their night. I think our guys played a great game and we got the two points.
On what happened between him and Kris Letang: He was pressuring me hard with the puck. I tried to get rid of it. After I got rid of it, he threw a couple of shots. So I pushed him back and then he took a couple of extra with his stick. He got it for the retaliation.
On what led to his fight: Not much, really. I just went in on the forecheck and after I hit him he shed his stuff really quick. He didn’t give me much of a choice.
On being fired up in the second after the slow start: After the first period it wasn’t great. We played last game pretty awfully and it wasn’t a great game. And then to come out in the first period kind of relaxed, nobody was really happy with how we were playing. [Brind’Amour]’s message was pretty positive. Down two goals against a team like that, just come out and play our game and work for one at a time.
On any second thoughts on having four forwards on the ice: No, I don’t think so. We’ve done it a few times in overtime. We’ve had 4-on-3, so we’re pretty confident. We have the puck and think we can score, and if it ends up on their stick we have the confidence to get back.
On matching the physicality: I thought both teams were playing pretty physical. When you get into March and later in the season it starts to get more physical. Both teams are playing like that. You just kind of buy into it and you have to answer the bell. Whenever a team is playing physical with you, you’ve got to play physical back.
On Staal: Yeah, he’s been playing the same way since I got here for the last three years. Obviously when you play like that you’re going to get your chances, and the pucks are starting to fall for him.
On the special teams: The power play and penalty kill are huge, especially late in the season. I think we still have to stay out of the box a little bit more. We were in the box too much again and against a power play like that. Late in the season you’re going to play against power plays that are tops in the league, so we’ve got to stay out of the box a little better. It’s nice to get a power play, especially in overtime.
On if he’ll get grief back home for the fight: It’s been nine years of this. I don’t think they’re looking forward to me having a clean face.
On what got everyone going: Yeah, the first period wasn’t our period. After we came out and worked harder than them and played our game. The first period that didn’t happen. That’s why we won that game. We played our game after the first period, for sure.
On Staal saying he was just getting started the other night: Exactly. He’s got to stay hot and shoot more. He’s going to score more for sure.
On if they were expecting that game to be as ‘playoffy’ as it was: Yeah, it’s two of the best teams in the league pretty much. We matched each other. They’ve got a good team. It’s a good matchup, for sure.
On Antti Raanta’s value in the first period: He was unbelievable. He made so many saves, and he helped us for sure tonight.
On if the Trocheck fight fired them up: Yeah, for sure. It’s a big fight. Everyone was fired up after that. It was fun to see that, for sure.
On if that fires him up: Oh yeah. It fired me up for sure, big time.
On if he almost dropped the gloves: No, not really. I just hit the guys.
On the reason for the ability to stay out of the box in this one: We didn’t really talk about it. Once you don’t talk about it you take less penalties. That’s how it works. Everyone was doing a great job today with the penalties.
On if it’s been hard for him to keep his focus with everything going on outside of hockey: Yeah, it’s a hard situation for sure. But I hope they’re going to find a peaceful solution as soon as possible and everything is going to be fine there.
On the only game of his career where he scored twice and didn’t win being a loss against the Hurricanes when he was on Pittsburgh and on if he remembers that game: I remember. I scored on [Cam Ward]. I remember that game. We’ve had a lot of battles between these two teams. It’s only going to get better.
On him saying he was only getting started the other day: That was what I said. I was half joking, but they’re starting to go in.
On getting going in the second half: I guess so. It took long enough to get going.
On his line grinding for the first goal: That’s what those two guys do. They hound pucks and create havoc. They may not be the prettiest ones, but it’s tough to defend. Create quick turnovers and bring it to the net and good things happen. [Jesper Fast] no question every night he’s the same thing over and over again. Hard on pucks and creates havoc, and Nino [Niederreiter]’s not far from that. He brings the puck to the net. Tonight those two guys played really well.
On this game being vintage Vincent Trocheck: He was on his game tonight, too. Everyone was, I thought. [Trocheck] was really good, solid. Obviously he was doing his thing, and it was a fun game.
On the playoff atmosphere: We needed it. We needed an emotional game, I think. Usually when we come into this building the fans are always into it, especially against this team. It makes for an interesting night. Two teams that are at the top of the Metro, so yeah we were expecting a tough game.
On the team’s response after the first period: They jumped on us early. They did a great job making it hard on us. Being down two against that team is tough. We had to rebound and get going, and that second period was evident of that. We had a couple shifts in our end, but for the most part had control of the game and had the puck a lot. We were creating chances, and we just wanted to keep building that in the third and found a way to tie it up.
On getting chances and sticking to that game: It’s kind of been our game from the start. The good thing about our group is kind of sticking with it and not getting frustrated when stuff like that happens. Knowing that if you continue to throw pucks and create chances and get to the net that eventually it will go in. Tonight was no different.
On deflecting from the high slot: It comes at you a little quicker, but you’re just trying to get a piece of it. I didn’t get much of it. It didn’t move a ton, but just enough to go in the net.
On Ethan Bear keeping the puck alive on that goal: That’s kind of why I was creeping out. I wasn’t sure if he had kept it in or not. He did a great job. I think there were a lot of guys in his lane and to bring it down, I thought he would shoot it at net. He did. It was a good little sneaky shot, and it was a good goal to get us back in it.
On if he’ll be lobbying for more ice time: I always want to get involved. The more ice time the better. I’m going to continue to push and try to create more ice time for myself and play the way this team needs me to play.