Published: Fri, May 26, 2017
Sport | By Noel Norman

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

But these Penguins, so resilient all season, shot holes in all of those arguments during a 3-2 double-overtime win over the Ottawa Senators in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference final on Thursday at PPG Paints Arena.

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

The loss dropped the Senators to 0-6 in franchise history in Game 7s. Now here we are with the teams playing in game seven where the victor will go on to face the Nashville Predators in the NHL Championship while the loser's season comes to a crashing end.

The Penguins and Senators could make a couple of lineup tweaks entering Game 7. I've seen him score from there pretty often. It was the fifth one-goal game of the series.

Once again, the Penguins could not hold the lead. The teams split their two meetings during the regular season, with each winning on home ice, with Nashville overwhelming Pittsburgh 5-1 back in November and the Penguins returning the favor with a 4-2 victory in January. "I think you've got to have a short memory and stay in the moment because these are great opportunities, these are great moments and you don't want to be thinking about the past or thinking about the future and miss out on the opportunity you have right at that moment'".

Pittsburgh has been almost unflappable in the face of adversity under Mike Sullivan, going 12-2 in playoff games following a loss over the last two springs.

While both Boucher and Sullivan are doing their best to try and keep their teams focused on the process and not the outcome, in some ways it's a fool's errand.

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Phil Kessel (81) celebrates with Bryan Rust (17) after Rust's goal in the second period during Game 1 of the Penguins Stanley Cup first-round series against the Blue Jackets on April 12. For his career he's produced 20 goals, 41 points and one game-winner in 112 games, but his performances in the playoffs that make him risky Thursday night. Subban has been spectacular at times during the playoffs and goaltender Pekka Rinne is playing the finest hockey of his career, helping stoke the passion of a fanbase that likes to sledgehammer beat-up cars in parking lots before games and throw catfish onto the ice during them.

"We all come from difference places and need to respect each other's opinions and so that's what we have been working on", Nicholl said.

A game-time decision for this one, Justin Schultz pushed the Penguins in front, 2-1, at 11:44 of the third period with a power-play goal.

An unrestricted free agent at the end of this season, Chris Kunitz might be nearing the end of his tenure with the Penguins.

Standing just beyond Game 7, potentially, is another Cup and maybe even another Conn Smythe.

Instead, Kelly explained, it was just teammates having a conversation of what lay ahead. "We deserve this one all the way through".

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