PITTSBURGH - The Rangers will be desperate for Game 5 Friday night. To hear Dan Bylsma tell it, the only way his Penguins can close out this second-round series is to play with equal, or greater, desperation, even with a 3-1 lead.
The Penguins have appeared to be in full steamroller mode, dominating Games 2 and 4 and relying on Marc-Andre Fleury to steal Game 3. They've gotten goals from their elite players, Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, to open each of the last two games, and they've received able offensive support from two-way players such as Brandon Sutter and Jussi Jokinen.
Their underrated defense, anchored by Paul Martin, has limited the Rangers to five goals in the series.
All in all, the Penguins seem ready to move on, but Bylsma needs something to motivate his team into closing the door Friday night.
"The story lines series take on, it's such an emotional thing," Bylsma said Thursday. "We lose in overtime in Game 1 and we're down in the series, we lose home ice and we're almost desperate to win Game 2 at home. But now it's only three wins, and that gets us nothing. We have an opportunity in Game 5, and we have to be as desperate as we've been all season long to get that fourth win."
The timing is right for the Penguins, who have had as consistent a roster during the postseason as they've had during a successful but injury-plagued season.
Brooks Orpik returned Wednesday after missing six games with an undisclosed injury, only to leave after one period of Game 4 with another injury.
"New injury," Bylsma said as his only clarification.
The Penguins had yesterday off, but it would be a long shot for Orpik to play. The Penguins were 4-1 without one of their top defensemen, including the final two wins of their opening-round series against the Blue Jackets and two shutouts of the Rangers.
The Rangers were decidedly off their game in Game 4, but the Penguins still needed timely scoring to grab hold of the series, including Malkin's goal just 2:31 in and Chris Kunitz's clincher with 5:56 to play.
The Crosby-Malkin-Kunitz line played together intermittently through the first two games but now is pretty much a fixture at even strength.
"That line had the early goal and that was largely a statement on how we were going to play the game," Bylsma said. "It was a situation where the Rangers had played a really good Game 3 and we were able to get a good win. We didn't want to wait and see how [Game 4] was going to turn out. Now it's the same situation -- we don't want to give them any life, any opportunity."