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game recap

Penguins defeat Senators in 2OT of Game 7, return to Cup Final

Chris Kunitz scores at 5:09 to give Pittsburgh chance to repeat as champion

by Wes Crosby / NHL.com Correspondent

PITTSBURGH -- It had been a while since Chris Kunitz showed how valuable he's been throughout his time with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

On Thursday, Kunitz did his part to send Pittsburgh back to the Stanley Cup Final.

The left wing scored 5:09 into the second overtime to give the Penguins a 3-2 win against the Ottawa Senators in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final at PPG Paints Arena.

"I don't think it really matters who scores," Kunitz said. "I think we're all just happy that the game is ended and we're on the top side of it and that we get to go play for another Stanley Cup. I think it's something that takes work from everybody on the ice to be able to score a goal."

 

[WATCH: All Penguins vs. Senators highlights | RELATED: Complete Pittsburgh vs. Ottawa series coverage]

 

The overtime goal was Kunitz's second of the game. He hadn't scored since Feb. 16, a span of 35 games.

The defending champion Penguins will play the Nashville Predators in the Cup Final with Game 1 here Monday.

"This was a hard-fought series and we knew it was going to be a hard-fought series going in," Pittsburgh coach Mike Sullivan said. "[Ottawa] is a really good team. They're not here by accident. They're a really good team and they're hard to play against.

"I'm proud of our group for the resilience that they showed throughout the course of this series."

Thursday was the 41st time, and seventh time in a conference final, a Game 7 in the Stanley Cup Playoffs reached overtime. Home teams are 21-20 after Pittsburgh's win.

Video: OTT@PIT, Gm7: Kunitz buries feed to open scoring

Matt Murray made 27 saves for Pittsburgh. Craig Anderson made 39 for Ottawa.

"It's surreal. It doesn't feel like it's actually happening but it is," Anderson said. "We played our hearts out and gave everything we have and we've got nothing to be ashamed of. We laid it out there and we put it on the line. Guys were dog tired out there and battling and it just wasn't in the cards for us."

Senators forward Ryan Dzingel tied it 2-2 with 5:19 left in the third period off a rebound.

Pittsburgh took a 2-1 lead with 8:16 remaining. After Dion Phaneuf was called for interference on Phil Kessel, Justin Schultz shot past a screen by Kunitz and off the right post. Schultz returned Thursday after missing four games because of an upper-body injury

Kunitz gave the Penguins a 1-0 lead at 9:55 of the second period before Mark Stone tied it 1-1 20 seconds later.

Kunitz passed to Conor Sheary, leading to a 2-on-1 facing Erik Karlsson. Sheary passed over Karlsson's stick to Kunitz, who shot inside the left post.

Sheary was in the lineup after being a healthy scratch the past two games. In the second period, Sullivan moved Sheary from the fourth line to the first with Sidney Crosby and Kunitz.

Karlsson set up the tying goal by passing to Stone and allowing him to put a shot over Murray to make it 1-1 at 10:15 of the second. The goal was Stone's first since he scored in the Games 5 and 6 of the second round against the New York Rangers.

 

Goal of the game

Crosby passed back to Kunitz, who one-timed a shot past Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Anderson.

Video: OTT@PIT, Gm7: Kunitz wins series in double overtime

 

Save of the game

Kessel drove to the net and shot off Anderson with 3:32 remaining in the first overtime. The puck hit off Anderson and Kessel's hand before hitting the crossbar and bouncing across the top of the net.

Video: OTT@PIT, Gm7: Anderson gets help from bar in OT

 

Highlight of the game

Karlsson shot off the left post, which caused Murray to look away from the rebound before Dzingel shot the puck as it fell to the ice. The goal was Dzingel's first since he scored in Game 1 of the second round.

Video: OTT@PIT, Gm7: Dzingel pots rebound to tie the game

 

Unsung performance of the game

Scott Wilson played 23:06, which was fourth among Penguins forwards. He had five hits and three blocks.

 

They said it

"It should be some exciting hockey as far as back-and-forth and fast and physical. I think both teams like to play a pretty similar style." -- Penguins captain Sidney Crosby on facing the Predators

 

"You have two hours? That's how long it would take to talk about everybody and everything that these guys had to go through. … They gave it their all. They put their soul into it." -- Senators coach Guy Boucher

 

"We lost to the better team and I don't think that we lost the series tonight. … At the end of the day this is what it took for them to win." -- Senators captain Erik Karlsson

 

Need to know

Ottawa is 0-6 in Game 7, including 0-5 on the road. ... Pittsburgh won a Game 7 at home for the first time after losing a Game 6. The Penguins were 0-7 entering Thursday. ... Pittsburgh can become the first repeat Stanley Cup champion since the Detroit Red Wings in 1997-98. ... Kunitz's last playoff goal came in Game 5 of the 2016 Eastern Conference Final against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

 

What's next

Senators: Season over

Penguins: Game 1 of Stanley Cup Final against Nashville Predators at PPG Paints Arena on Monday (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, TVA Sports, SN)

 

Video: Kunitz's double OT goal sends Pens to Cup Final

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