There aren't very many similarities between the Penguins' postseason runs in 2011 and 2013.
The 2011 squad was racked by injuries to its best players. The 2013 team can't even get some of its best players on the ice for power plays due to an abundance of health and depth.
In 2011, James Neal was used on the left wing. In 2013, Neal is on the right wing (mostly).
In 2011, Marc-Andre Fleury was the starting goaltender. In 2013, he has been replaced by Tomas Vokoun.
But even after acknowledging all those differences, the fact remains that the last time the Penguins had a 3-1 series lead with an elimination game at home was in 2011 against the Tampa Bay Lightning in a quarterfinal series. They were blown out 8-2 in Game 5 of that series and eventually lost in seven games.
Today, members of the current Penguins who were on the ice for that Game 5 in 2011 as well as the coach were asked if there were any lessons from that defeat which could be applied to tonight's Game 5.
Matt Niskanen, defenseman - "Other than just recognizing that the fourth win is really hard. Not that we didn’t know at that time but just knowing the situation and knowing how desperate they’re going to be. We’re going to have to play a really different game to finish them."
James Neal, left winger - "For sure. You take from that series that you’re ahead and you come back to your building. You’re feeling confident. You might feel a little bit too relaxed. I think you learn from that. We’re going to come in here with a different mindset. We want to dictate the play. We’ve had great starts the last few games and we want to continue that."
Tyler Kennedy (right), center - "I think anyone knows you try to put away a team as fast a possible. The fourth [win] is the hardest to win and we’ve got to make sure we’re ready.”
Pascal Dupuis, right winger - "No. It’s different. It’s totally different. It’s not even the same. It’s totally different. Yes, we don’t want to make the same mistake. But it’s a different situation.”
Craig Adams, right winger - "I don’t think so. I think everybody knows the series isn’t over. It isn’t going to be easy. If we don’t win tonight, it’s going to get harder. You don’t have to be that situation to know that. It’s pretty obvious from the outside looking in. It’s something you talk about but at the end of the day, whoever wins or loses tonight’s game is going to be determined by how the game is played tonight and who executes. Last game doesn’t have a bearing on it and neither does 2011."
Dan Bylsma, head coach - "You’ve got a totally different situation with a different team. I don’t try to draw parallels amongst this group and that group. We’re sitting in the same spot with the same opportunity to that. Maybe as a coach, you draw on some of those things and some of those lessons learned from that situations."
(Photo: Lightning-Justin K. Aller/Getty Images; Kennedy-Drew Hallowell/Getty Image)