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Conference Final

Senators go with experience in Game 7 against Penguins

Veteran forward Chris Kelly or Tommy Wingels will be in lineup

by Dan Rosen @DRosenNHL / NHL.com Senior Writer

PITTSBURGH -- Ottawa Senators coach Guy Boucher believes experience can be a factor, which is why he will insert either center Chris Kelly or right wing Tommy Wingels into the lineup for Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final against the Pittsburgh Penguins at PPG Paints Arena on Thursday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports).

Rookie forward Colin White, 20, who played in Game 6 on Tuesday, will be scratched. Boucher also said there will be no changes on defense and goalie Craig Anderson will start.

"It'll depend if it's a center or winger that I'm going to need," Boucher said of choosing between Kelly and Wingels. "And the reason why those two are considered is because of their experience. They've both lived seventh games and they've both won seventh games."

 

[RELATED: Complete Penguins vs. Senators series coverage]

 

Kelly, 36, who hasn't played since Game 5 of the first round, has been in five Game 7s during his NHL career, winning four. He is the only player on the Senators who has won Game 7 of a conference final. That was in 2011 with the Boston Bruins against Tampa Bay Lightning, who were coached by Boucher.

Wingels, 29, who was scratched for Game 6 but has played four of the six games in this series, is 1-2 in Game 7, all with the San Jose Sharks.

"If I'm in, great," said Kelly, who was with the Senators the last time they made the Cup Final, in 2007, before being reacquired in the offseason. "If I'm not, I want the team to succeed and do well."

Kelly has played an integral role with the Senators off the ice even though he has played in one of their 18 games during the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs. He was one of a handful of players who spoke to the entire team Monday, the off day before Game 6.

He said it was a message based on his experience.

"I think it was important just to let the guys know to stay in the moment," Kelly said. "It's so easy to look ahead to the future or look to the past. 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.

"We're human beings, believe it or not, and it's easy for us to dwell on the past and to look to the future and think about that. But the future doesn't happen unless you stay in the moment. I just tried to explain that to them and that was about it."

Kelly said he won't have a passionate speech to deliver before Game 7. He might get a chance to put his leadership skills to use on the ice instead.

"It's probably been my toughest decision all year long to keep him out in these last games," Boucher said. "I feel that definitely today is one of those games he can go in and make a contribution."

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