Penguins coach Mike Sullivan didn’t want to get into any sort of war of words with the Sharks on Thursday, one day after Logan Couture accused Sidney Crosby of “cheating” on faceoffs.
Crosby won a key draw in overtime of Game 2 in Pittsburgh on Wednesday, leading to Conor Sheary’s goal that gave the Penguins a two-games-to-none lead in the Stanley Cup Final.
“I have no response to it. My main concern is about our hockey team, our mindset, our determination, and the focus of our group,” Sullivan said in a conference call. “That's where my main concern is and that's where I'm going to use all my energy.”
Along with Couture’s accusation, defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic, on the ice for the Sheary goal, suggested that Crosby “maybe should have been kicked out” of the faceoff circle for taking too long.
Pressed a little on the subject later on the call, Sullivan said:
“Listen, all centers that go in there and take faceoffs, they're trying to get an edge. That's just the reality of it. They're doing the same things our guys are doing. The way I look at it, that's all part of being a center iceman, trying to figure out a way to get an edge and be successful.
“Sid isn't doing anything their guys aren't doing. Quite honestly, it really isn't worthy of a response. As I said before, my main focus is on our group and on our mindset going into this Game 3. We want to make sure that we focus on the task at hand.”
The Penguins and Sharks both were off on Thursday and will practice at Sharks Ice on Friday in preparation for Game 3 at SAP Center. It will be the first-ever Sharks home game in the Stanley Cup Final, as they attempt to get back into the series.
Sullivan expects a strong push from the Sharks, who are 7-2 in their own building in the playoffs. Prior to a 5-1 Pittsburgh win at SAP Center on Dec. 1, the Sharks were 11-0-1 in their last 12 home games against the Penguins.
“San Jose is a very good hockey team. They're good at home,” Sullivan said. “I'm sure their fan base will give them a boost of energy. So we would expect that.”
The Penguins will be playing out of the Eastern Time Zone for the first time since Jan. 18 at St. Louis. The Sharks traveled the most miles in the NHL regular season, and have been playing at least two time zones away for the past three playoff rounds.
“Both teams are going through the same type of challenge with the time zone change,” Sullivan said. “I think the time in between games certainly helps us in that regard. I'm sure our guys will handle it the right way.”