MOON, Pa. -- Pittsburgh Penguins assistant captain Evgeni Malkin channeled his inner Mark Messier and all but guaranteed a victory in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday at Amalie Arena.
The Lightning hold a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series.
"I believe in my team, I believe in myself," Malkin said unsolicited. "We're coming back to Pittsburgh for sure."
If a Game 7 is needed, it would be played Thursday at Consol Energy Center.
Of course, Messier's iconic guarantee of a win in Game 6 against the New Jersey Devils in the 1994 Eastern Conference finals is famous in the New York Rangers' sports lore. The Rangers won that series and eventually the Stanley Cup.
"What's he supposed to say in that situation?" said Lightning coach Jon Cooper in response. "Of course they're going to say they're going to win, and they should. They're a good team, a good, confident group, but we feel the same way.
"But, look, you've got to win four, and we're a little closer to four than they are, but you've still got to get four, and that's all our group is thinking about, is let's just get that fourth one."
Malkin isn't the only Penguins player to say there will be a Game 7 in this series. Forward Patric Hornqvist said following the team's 4-3 overtime loss in Game 5 against the Lightning that Pittsburgh will be coming home for a Game 7.
"We're in a tough position and there's no doubt in my mind we're going to come back here for a Game 7," he said.
Both Penguins players offered the comments unsolicited. Eric Fehr agrees with his teammates.
"We believe in ourselves and we know we have the players in this dressing room to do it," he said. "We just have to go out and play. If there's one thing we've learned against Tampa Bay, it's you can't take a second or a minute off against these guys. They're really quick-strike, they've capitalized like a lot of teams haven't in the past. If we can just stay focused for a full 60 minutes, I like our chances."