PITTSBURGH - The Pittsburgh Penguins are in the drivers seat in their Stanley Cup playoff series against the New York Rangers.
Win tonight at Madison Square Garden and they're one victory away from moving on to the Eastern Conference final.
That would probably be enough to keep coach Dan Bylsma employed, too.
There's been so much attention focused on Sidney Crosby's lack of goal scoring that Marc-Andre Fleury's playoff redemption hasn't gotten enough attention.
Fleury has posted back-to-back shutouts and seemingly chased the demons that have been haunting him in the postseason. His confidence has to be off the charts, and that's an important factor for a goaltender.
Crosby's broad smile after beating goalie Henrik Lundqvist was a pretty obvious indication of how he felt about breaking the scoring drought. Crosby was probably better in Game 2, when he was flying the entire game.
It was a gear Crosby hadn't reached in previous games, and that raises some questions in this intriguing story. Had he taken some sort of pain-killing injection that allowed him to skate at a more intense level?
The speculation has been that the Penguins are covering up a Crosby injury. The theory has credence because Crosby hasn't been playing at his usual level.
Nobody knows, and nobody is going to say anything while the playoffs are proceeding. Hockey's paranoia about providing valid injury information is reflected in the vague reports that mention "upper body" or "lower body" injuries.
"Upper body" could be a concussion, separated shoulder or broken finger. They don't want anybody to know.
With a player as valuable as Crosby is, that secrecy is ramped up to another level.
It's an interesting back story as the Penguins progress through the postseason.
The beauty of baseball is there's always a game the next day.
It isn't like football, where a lousy outcome has a chance to stew for a week.
Clint Hurdle is fond of saying the players need to "shower off" a bad game and come back ready to play.
Monday's 13-inning loss to the San Francisco Giants probably took an extra-long shower.
The Pirates led 8-2 in the sixth inning. They led 10-9 going into the ninth inning. When they wound up losing in the 13th inning, it felt like the third time they'd lost in the same night.
It only counts as one on the record, but it felt a lot worse than that.
Mehno can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org