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5 Keys: Senators at Penguins, Game 7

Winner advances to Stanley Cup Final against Predators

by Wes Crosby / NHL.com Correspondent

SENATORS at PENGUINS

8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports

Best-of-7 series is tied 3-3

PITTSBURGH -- The defending champion Pittsburgh Penguins have one last chance to reach the Stanley Cup Final for a second consecutive season, but they are 0-7 in Game 7 after losing Game 6 on the road, as they did Tuesday against the Ottawa Senators.

The Senators avoided elimination with a 2-1 win, and with another victory would reach the Final for the first time since 2007.

The winner will host the Nashville Predators in Game 1 of the Final on Monday.

Here are 5 keys for Game 7:

 

1. More magic from Craig Anderson

The Senators admitted Anderson, who has allowed one goal in four of the six games during the series, was the difference in Game 6.

After giving up four goals on 14 shots and being pulled twice during Game 5, Anderson rebounded with 45 saves Tuesday. He was particularly impressive in the first two periods, when Ottawa was outshot 34-19.

If the Senators can't come out with a better effort early in Game 7, they could be forced to lean on Anderson again.

Video: PIT@OTT, Gm6: Anderson stuffs Crosby with blocker

 

2. More of the same from Pittsburgh

The Penguins thought they did enough to advance to the Stanley Cup Final on Tuesday, except score more than one goal.

The Penguins were pleased with their effort and will look to bring the same game Thursday. They outshot Ottawa 46-30 and held a 1-0 lead after Evgeni Malkin scored at 4:51 of the second period, but struggled to enter the offensive zone through the first half of the third. If the Penguins hope to advance, they will need to implement the same style without a letdown as the game progresses.

"As a team we're looking forward to this challenge," forward Carl Hagelin said. "I think we're an excited group."

 

3. Structured Senators

At times, Ottawa's 1-3-1 forecheck has seemed to make it virtually impossible for Pittsburgh to get through the neutral zone cleanly. However, that's been the case only for fleeting moments during the past two games.

The Senators could do themselves a favor by successfully implementing the defensive style that held the Penguins to one goal in each of the first three games of this series.

"We know what we have to do," defenseman Erik Karlsson said. "We know the expectations from ourselves."

 

4. Evgeni Malkin leading the way

Except for Anderson, Malkin probably was the best player on the ice in Game 6. Despite his effort, which led to a goal early in the second period, he felt he could have, and should have, done more.

Malkin quietly has been the Penguins' offensive leader throughout the Stanley Cup Playoffs. His three assists in their 7-0 win in Game 5 were overlooked, which has been a theme during the past month.

The Penguins have noticed Malkin's contributions, however, and they'll look for him to have another effective performance Thursday.

Video: PIT@OTT, Gm6: Malkin backhands home own rebound

 

5. Health of Patric Hornqvist and Justin Schultz

Hornqvist and Schultz, who each have been out with upper-body injuries, will be game-time decisions, Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said.

If even one of them returns, Pittsburgh's power play could be significantly bolstered. Hornqvist normally serves as the net-front presence on the top unit and Schultz usually quarterbacks it.

The Penguins struggled to create traffic around the Senators net in Game 6, which could be altered with Hornqvist's tendency to hound opposing goaltenders.

If Hornqvist does not play, forward Conor Sheary could return after he was a healthy scratch the past two games.

"I think we all have to be ready to play tonight," Sheary said.

 

Senators projected lineup

Zack Smith -- Jean-Gabriel Pageau -- Mark Stone

Mike Hoffman -- Kyle Turris -- Tom Pyatt

Clarke MacArthur -- Derick Brassard -- Bobby Ryan

Ryan Dzingel -- Chris Kelly -- Viktor Stalberg

Marc Methot -- Erik Karlsson

Dion Phaneuf -- Cody Ceci

Fredrik Claesson -- Chris Wideman

Craig Anderson

Mike Condon

Scratched: Chris Neil, Colin White, Jyrki Jokipakka, Christopher DiDomenico, Ben Harpur, Chris Driedger, Tommy Wingels

Injured: Mark Borowiecki (lower body), Alexandre Burrows (leg)

 

Penguins projected lineup

Chris Kunitz -- Sidney Crosby -- Jake Guentzel

Scott Wilson -- Evgeni Malkin -- Phil Kessel

Bryan Rust -- Nick Bonino -- Carter Rowney

Carl Hagelin -- Matt Cullen -- Conor Sheary

Brian Dumoulin -- Ron Hainsey

Olli Maatta -- Trevor Daley

Ian Cole -- Mark Streit

Matt Murray

Marc-Andre Fleury

Scratched: Josh Archibald, Oskar Sundqvist, Cameron Gaunce, Jean-Sebastien Dea, Derrick Pouliot, Daniel Sprong, Dominik Simon, David Warsofsky, Frank Corrado, Kevin Porter, Garrett Wilson, Tom Sestito, Tristan Jarry, Sean Maguire

Injured: Kris Letang (upper body), Justin Schultz (upper body), Patric Hornqvist (upper body), Bryan Rust (upper body), Tom Kuhnhackl (lower body), Chad Ruhwedel (concussion)

 

Status report

White will not play for the Senators. Coach Guy Boucher said either Wingels or Kelly would take his place. … Ruhwedel (concussion) skated in a yellow no-contact jersey Thursday. He is not expected to play in Game 7.

 

Who's hot

Ryan has six points (two goals, four assists) this series. … Malkin has four points (one goal, three assists) in his past two games. He leads the NHL with 24 points (seven goals, 17 assists) in the playoffs.

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