Penguins feeling good

ROB LONGLEY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:53 AM ET

PITTSBURGH -- It's just one win and it required a deflected shot in overtime to seal it.

But heading into tonight's Game 4 of the Eastern Conference semi-final, the Penguins feel they have an edge over the visiting Washington Capitals despite trailing the best-of-seven series.

"I feel like we've out-chanced them over the three games," Penguins captain Sidney Crosby said yesterday following an optional skate at the team's practice facility. "It doesn't matter, we're still down 2-1. But we're confident if we continue to play this way, we'll give ourselves a great chance.

"We don't want to change a thing. There's a lot of rebounds laying there that we haven't been able to put in."

The Pens have had an edge in shots in all three games, for a series total of 115-82. The most dominant effort came in Wednesday's overtime win, however, when Pittsburgh outshot the Caps 42-23 thanks in part to six power plays and a sterling individual show by Evgeni Malkin.

"They can think what they want to think, they're still down 2-1," Caps coach Bruce Boudreau said. "I'd much rather be where I am than where they are."

What has been a riveting series hits its most crucial point with back-to-back games here tonight and in Washington tomorrow.

Both teams are annoyed at the schedule, but cramming two games so close was necessitated by several non-hockey bookings at the Mellon Arena including a Yanni concert next Tuesday.

Malkin had taken much criticism for his shoddy play in the first two games before waking up Wednesday with some dominating play the Pens are hoping will kickstart some even bigger efforts.

"(Malkin) is young, but he is already mature," Pens defenceman Sergei Gonchar said.

"He knows one game doesn't mean anything. He has to go out there and prove it again and again."

Then there has been the sustained brilliance of Washington rookie goaltender Simeon Varlamov, who arguably has been the best player on the ice through three games.

"It's all about making the big save and coming through in the clutch," Boudreau said. "We knew he was going to be a good goalie, we didn't know he would be this composed. That was probably our biggest fear. We knew he could stop the puck."


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