June 29, 2017

Kunitz's double-OT goal sends Penguins back to Stanley Cup

26 May 2017, 01:15 | Simon Arnold

For the second straight year, the Penguins are headed to the Stanley Cup final, thanks to a 3-2 win in double overtime on Thursday night.

The Penguins, in the National Hockey League title series for the fourth time in 10 years, will begin the defence of their 2016 crown with a home game on Monday when the Western Conference champion Nashville Predators arrive for Game One of the best-of-seven set.

The Senators were bidding to make it for the first time since 2007 but instead dropped to 0-6 all-time in Game 7s.

It was said that the Penguins could not and would not reach the Stanley Cup Final without Kris Letang, that the slew of injuries they incurred during the second half of the regular season would crush them.

The victor will face the Nashville Predators, who advanced to the finals for the first time by eliminating Anaheim on Monday. A day before the Ottawa Senators staved off elimination in the Eastern Conference final, Chris Kelly got up in front of the group and offered his bit of veteran wisdom.Kelly hadn't played in more than a month, but wanted to stress to his teammates to live in the moment of their storybook playoff run. "I think both teams like to play a pretty similar style".

The Sens powerplay finally broke out of their slump with a Bobby Ryan 5-on-3 powerplay goal, pushing them up to 1-for-18 on the powerplay in the series. Once again, though, Pittsburgh's lead was short-lived.

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On Thursday night, he made sure it wasn't over just yet.

"It's not fun thinking about the future", Kunitz said. He's tied for ninth all-time with 1.11 points per-game, sitting first among active players. "He was incredible", said Crosby of Anderson. Pittsburgh has proven they're able to come alive in tough situations, as they were driven to a game seven by the Washington Capitals in the second round and were able to come out alive. But after a scoreless first overtime, Chris Kunitz scored five minutes into the second overtime on a nasty slap shot. He had a.922 save percentage in 19 playoff games. "They were the better team".

Kunitz got the game victor on a slap shot from the top of the faceoff circle that made it past two Sens defenders and over the right shoulder of Anderson, who stopped 39 of Pittsburgh's 42 shots on goal. "So for us as players, this is what it's all about". Kunitz finished off a Sheary pass, ending a long goal drought.

Boucher entered with a 1-1 mark, the last one coming with Tampa in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference final against Boston. He's posted a plus-7 and most impressively scored three game-winning goals, all of which have clinched series (Tampa Bay - 2016, Columbus - 2017, Washington - 2017).

"We tried to win another way, and we got our butts kicked", Boucher said.

Game 7 offers the Penguins and their stars the opportunity to cement their legacy while the Senators can complete an improbable run to their sport's biggest stage.

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