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Penguins have been winning by getting to their game

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Friday, June 5, 2009

For the Penguins, each Stanley Cup playoff series has been a "race to four," and they've only won three because of finding a way to "get to their game."

Winger Chris Kunitz said Thursday those signature lines - "race..." introduced by Bylsma before the playoffs and "... game" a few days after he replaced former coach Michel Therrien on Feb. 15 - go hand-in-hand.

"You're not going to win the race if you don't play the game you need to play," Kunitz said before Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final against the Detroit Red Wings.

A team-wide commitment to systematic patience had, at times through three Final games, allowed the Red Wings to keep the Penguins from getting to their game. That success - noticeable most for a 30-minute stretch in Game 3 on Tuesday - had forced Kunitz and linemates Sidney Crosby and Bill Guerin to spend extra hours studying film of the Red Wings' defensive system.

Of that trio, only Crosby has recorded a Final point - a secondary assist Tuesday on the power play.

Yesterday, Kunitz detailed the manner the Red Wings had gone about taking a 2-1 lead in this "race to four."

"They sit three guys back and have good back-pressure, things that make (passes) not look open for you," he said. "You want to make a play and do something different, and that takes you out of your structure. We've talked about just sticking with our game plan, getting pucks behind (Detroit skaters) and going to get them."

To win the big race, the Penguins must start claiming those little ones.

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