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Conference Final

Guy Boucher hopes for better Game 7 outcome with Senators

Ottawa coach, who lost conference final with Lightning in 2011, eyes win against Penguins

by Dan Rosen @drosennhl / Senior Writer

PITTSBURGH -- Ottawa Senators coach Guy Boucher still remembers the details when he was in the exact same position six years ago.

Boucher, who will coach the Senators against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final at PPG Paints Arena on Thursday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports), was standing behind the Tampa Bay Lightning bench in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final against the Boston Bruins on May 27, 2011.

"It was 0-0 with seven minutes left in the game," Boucher said. "It was quite a game and a lot of pressure."

And it was going along as a perfect game for a Boucher-coached team.

The Bruins, the home team, like the Penguins are now, had shots and were pressuring, but the Lightning were hanging in, with goalie Dwayne Roloson doing his job. If you think this sounds just like Game 6 on Tuesday, well, you're not wrong, with the exception of Senators goalie Craig Anderson in Roloson's place.

But then forward Nathan Horton scored for Boston at 12:27 of the third period. That was all she wrote.


[RELATED: Complete Penguins vs. Senators series coverage]


Boucher, in his first season as an NHL coach, in his first bid to get to the Stanley Cup Final, fell short in a 1-0 loss.

"What I remember most is the excitement of an opportunity that very few people get in their lives," Boucher said.

He has another chance now. He considers himself lucky.

"It's only my fourth season in the NHL and that's twice I lived that," Boucher said. "There's so many great coaches, better than me, that have done 15 years in the League and still haven't had the chance to be in a conference final. So I have to be grateful for that."

The only current Senators who have played in Game 7 of a conference final are forwards Derick Brassard and Chris Kelly.

Brassard, while with the New York Rangers, lost to the Lightning in 2015. Kelly, who will be a game-time decision Thursday, was with the Bruins in 2011, opposing Boucher.

"You can't think about what's going to happen and the end result," Brassard said. "You've just got to go out there, play the first period, do your best. Those games are so much fun to be part of.

"We have a chance to advance to the Stanley Cup Final. We can't ask for anything better than this."

Except they can. Boucher knows it. But he won't ask for anything else just yet.

"I think what we have to watch out for is thinking of [the] Stanley Cup Final," Boucher said. "It's about winning one game. We've won a lot of 'one games' this year. We've won a lot of pressure 'one games.' That's what it's about. If you get ahead of yourself, you get an excitement that's very difficult to manage. So we want to make sure that we manage it.

"Last time we went [to Pittsburgh], we got shellacked [a 7-0 loss in Game 5], so not great memories. But it's a new day, and the only way we're going to get to have a chance is to play with our identity and our tools. That's all we want to focus on."

The Lightning did the same thing six years ago and lost, a game Boucher remembers like it was yesterday. But he won't let that game define what he and his team do today.

"That's in 2011," Boucher said. "We're here right now. It's the 25th of May, 2017, and I just can't feel more privileged to be with the players we've got right now, this special group of players and people in the organization. That's my only focus."

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