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Penguins not giving up on road to Stanley Cup just yet

| Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Three losses, twenty goals allowed and none from scoring champion Evgeni Malkin. There's little from the first three games that would bolster a belief that this series could reach Game 7, 6 or even 5.

Yet the Penguins disagree.

Wednesday night's Game 4 against the Flyers isn't the finale, they insist. They were Stanley Cup favorites just days ago and said Tuesday that they won't leave the playoffs weakly with an embarrassing first-round sweep.

"It won't end like this. It can't," winger Pascal Dupuis said after the team arrived in Philadelphia. "We're too proud."

But there hasn't been much reason for pride in this series. The rival Flyers lead the Eastern Conference quarterfinal, 3-0, and the suddenly shaky Penguins would be eliminated with a loss tonight at Wells Fargo Center.

That ending was unthinkable not long ago inside the Penguins dressing room.

"Ten days ago people were talking about us being the best team," Dupuis said. "It's hard not to listen."

Three humbling losses have the Penguins desperately explaining that they aren't "embarrassed" or "shocked" nor in disbelief. They just haven't played to their full ability. With two superstars at center and a talented roster, it's that elite talent that buoys their remaining hope.

"Ten days ago we believed we were a very good team and we believed we had a chance to win the Stanley Cup," coach Dan Bylsma said. "That still holds true regardless of the situation we're in. If there's any group of guys that believes that and knows that it's this group of guys."

The Penguins practiced yesterday morning at Consol Energy Center, their first workout since Sunday's fight-filled Game 3 loss. They offered no apologies nor regrets for turning physical and disagreed with anyone who called their performance embarrassing.

"If they were in this room, they'd see how much every guy cared," center Sidney Crosby said. "... (Fans) should have nothing to be embarrassed about. They should be pretty proud of the guys they have here. It's a terrible situation to be in, being down, 3-0. But that's when you need your fans most."

The nearly hour-long practice was lively, and the mood was optimistic before they flew to Philadelphia in the afternoon. A day earlier, Bylsma described the team's emotions as shock and disbelief.

In 24 hours, that had improved.

"I don't think anybody came here today shocked or down," Crosby said.

What they felt was a sense of urgency.

"We've just got to win one game," said Crosby, who reiterated often that his team had yet to put a complete game together. "That's really what it comes down to."

Only three NHL teams have recovered from 0-3 to win a playoff series, including the Flyers in 2010. It's an overwhelming situation, but Crosby said his team's focus isn't on the long odds.

"It's something you can't dwell on," he said. "You just can't afford to dwell on that. It's not going to make anything better and it's not going to change anything. I think our minds are in the right place. We want to find a way to get back into this series. I think every guy in here believes we can do that."

Photo Galleries

Game 3 Pens vs. Flyers 4/15/12

Game 3 Pens vs. Flyers 4/15/12

The Pittsburgh Penguins lose 8-4 against the Philadelphia Flyers, Sunday, April 15 at the Wells Fargo Center in Game 3 of their Stanley Cup playoff series.

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