PITTSBURGH -- Earlier in his career, Matt Carkner was a farmhand of the Pittsburgh Penguins in the American Hockey League.
As a Scranton/Wilkes Barre Penguin, Carkner scored 6 goals and 24 assists in 2006-07. On Thursday night, in Game 5 of the Penguins' Stanley Cup Playoff series against Ottawa, Carkner scored the most important goal of his career -- for the Senators.
Signed as a free agent by the Senators in 2007, the 6-foot-4, 230-pound defenseman came back to haunt his former team when he scored at 7:06 of the third overtime to give the Senators a 4-3 win and new life in the series. The Senators now trail the Penguins 3-2 in the series with Game 6 Saturday in Ottawa.
"It's unbelievable," a smiling-but-tired Carkner said outside the Ottawa dressing room. "We battled hard all night. After three overtime, you're not expecting a pretty goal."
This one certainly wasn't. Taking a nice pass from Daniel Alfredsson, Carkner took aim at the Penguins net. That was about it. Carkner didn't see his shot hit Pittsburgh's Matt Cooke, change direction and slip past Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury.
"Alfredsson did a good job on the forecheck and he got it over to me," said Carkner, who played 28:59 in the game. "I didn't see it go in. I just saw Alfredsson's face.
"It's the biggest goal of my career for sure."
Carkner isn't fooled by his goal, though. He knows the Senators remain on life support against the defending Stanley Cup champs.
"We have a lot of work to do still," Carkner admitted. "It's live or die, so there isn't a lot to talk about."