ad-fullscreen

Penguins beat Senators in OT, return to Stanley Cup Final

Updated May 25, 2017 - 10:33 pm

PITTSBURGH — The Pittsburgh Penguins are heading back to the Stanley Cup Final.

Chris Kunitz beat Craig Anderson 5:09 into the second overtime to give the defending champions a 3-2 victory over the Ottawa Senators in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference final Thursday night.

Kunitz scored twice, his first two of the playoffs. Justin Schultz added the other in his return from an upper-body injury, and Matt Murray stopped 28 shots on his 23rd birthday.

The Penguins are trying to become the first team since the Detroit Red Wings in 1998 to win back-to-back titles. They will host Western Conference champion Nashville in Game 1 on Monday night.

Mark Stone and Ryan Dzingel scored for Ottawa. The Senators rallied twice to tie it, with Dzingel making it 2-2 with 5:19 left in regulation.

Craig Anderson made 39 saves, but couldn’t get a handle on Kunitz’s shot from just outside the left circle. The Senators are 0-6 in Game 7s in franchise history.

The Senators forced a return trip to Pittsburgh — where they lost 7-0 loss in Game 5 on Sunday — by leaning heavily on Anderson in a 2-1 Game 6 victory, putting both teams at odds with history.

Ottawa came in 0-for-25 years in winner-take-all games, while the Penguins were 0-7 in Game 7s at home in series in which they also dropped Game 6.

Ottawa coach Guy Boucher told his resilient team to not get caught up in the big picture but instead focus on the small ones, a recipe that carried the Senators throughout a bumpy transition under their first-year head coach to the brink of the franchise’s second Cup appearance.

The Penguins, trying to become the first defending champion to return to the finals since Detroit in 2009, came in confident they would advance if they could replicate their dominant Game 6, when they were undone only by Anderson’s brilliance.

Pittsburgh has been nearly unflappable in the face of adversity under Mike Sullivan, going 12-2 in playoff games following a loss over the last two springs. He encouraged his team to “just play,” code for fighting through Ottawa’s neutral zone-clogging style and the bumping, grabbing and pulling that comes along with it.

A chance to play for their sport’s ultimate prize on the line, the sheets of open ice the Penguins found so easily in Games 4-6 closed up. For most of the first 30 minutes, loose pucks hopped over sticks to spoil some scoring opportunities while Anderson and Murray gobbled up the rest.

Kunitz, relegated to the fourth line since returning from injury in the second round, picked up his first postseason goal in a calendar year when he completed a two-on-one with Conor Sheary — a healthy scratch in Games 5 and 6 — by slipping the puck by Anderson 9:55 into the second period.

The momentum lasted all of 20 seconds. Ottawa responded immediately with Stone — who stretched his left skate to stay onside — fired a wrist shot that handcuffed Murray.

Pittsburgh kept coming. Schultz, returning after missing four games with an upper-body injury, zipped a shot from the point through Kunitz’s screen and into the net with 8:16 left in the third.

Once again, the Penguins could not hold the lead. Dzingel set up at the right post and banged home a rebound off Erik Karlsson’s shot that hit the left post and caromed off Murray’s back right to Dzingel’s stick.

NOTES: The home team is 21-20 in overtime Game 7s in NHL playoff history. … Pittsburgh F Patric Hornqvist skated during warmups, but was held out of the lineup for a sixth straight game with an upper-body injury. … Karlsson had 16 assists in the playoffs to set a team record. … The Penguins are 10-7 in Game 7s. … It was the fifth one-goal game of the series.

section-ads_high_impact_4
Golden Knights Videos
Golden Knights defenseman Nate Schmidt on teammates golfing skills
Golden Knights defenseman Nate Schmidt talks about the best and worst golfers on the team Saturday at City National Arena. (David Schoen/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Golden Knights goaltender Calvin Pickard on days off
Golden Knights goaltender Calvin Pickard talks about Friday's day off after practice Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017, at City National Arena. (David Schoen/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Jonathan Marchessault talks about playing alongside Vadim Shipachyov
Golden Knights forward Jonathan Marchessault is quickly adjusting to his new line mate Vadim Shipachyov. (Steve Carp/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Golden Knights forward David Perron on a good forward line
Golden Knights forward talks about the ingredients for a good forward line. (David Schoen/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Goaltender Calvin Pickard on Golden Knights' loss to Sharks
Golden Knights goaltender Calvin Pickard talks about the team's 5-2 loss to the Sharks in San Jose on Thursday, Sept. 21, 2017. (David Schoen/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Gerard Gallant on Golden Knights' first preseason loss
Golden Knights coach Gerard Gallant talks about the team's 5-2 loss to the Sharks in San Jose on Thursday, Sept. 21, 2017. (David Schoen/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Forward David Perron on Golden Knights' 5-2 loss
Golden Knights forward David Perron talks about the team's 5-2 loss to the Sharks in San Jose on Thursday, Sept. 21, 2017. (David Schoen/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Golden Knights coach Gerard Gallant talks about Tuesday's win over Colorado
Gerard Gallant hopes his team will cut down on penalties as preseason goes along. Steve Carp/Las Vegas Review-Journal.
Oscar Lindberg is encouraged by Golden Knights' 2-0 start
Golden Knights forward Oscar Lindberg is quickly adjusting to his new teammates. Steve Carp/Las Vegas Review-Journal.
Official opening of City National Arena, practice facility for the Golden Knights
Government officials joined Golden Knights chairman and CEO Bill Foley, hockey players and fans for the official opening on Monday of the City National Arena, the team's 146,000 square-foot practice facility in Las Vegas.
Gerard Gallant happy with Golden Knights first preseason game
Coach Gerard Gallant saw lots to like in the Golden Knights' 9-4 win on Sunday, Sept. 17, 2017, in Vancouver. (Steve Carp/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Veteran defenseman Brad Hunt proud Golden Knights rookies in first game
Brad Hunt making his case to make the Golden Knights. The veteran defenseman was proud of the way Golden Knights rookies played in the team's first NHL preseason game on Sunday, Sept. 17, 2017. (Steve Carp/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Tyler Wong talks about his hat trick in Sunday's Golden Knights win
Rookie forward Tyler Wong had four points as the Golden Knights beat Vancouver 9-4 in their NHL preseason opener, Sunday, Sept. 17, 2017. (Steve Carp/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
pos-2 — ads_infeed_1
post-4 — ads_infeed_2
Local Spotlight
Events
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like