PENGUINS OUTLAST SENATORS IN 2OT TO RETURN TO STANLEY CUP FINAL
Chris Kunitz (2-1-3) scored his second goal of the game at 5:09 of the second overtime as the defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins defeated the Ottawa Senators in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final to advance to the Stanley Cup Final for the second straight season and sixth time overall.
* Pittsburgh became the first NHL team to make consecutive appearances in the Stanley Cup Final since it faced the Detroit Red Wings in back-to-back years: 2008 (4-2 L) and 2009 (4-3 W). The Penguins, who also won the Cup in 1991 and 1992, are the first team in the NHL's expansion era (since 1967-68) to make consecutive Final appearances on three separate occasions.
* The Penguins improved to 10-7 all-time in Game 7s. They are 2-0 in the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs, including a 2-0 win at the Washington Capitals in the Eastern Conference Second Round on May 10. Pittsburgh appeared in multiple Game 7s within a single postseason for the second time in franchise history; in 2009, the Penguins defeated Washington 6-2 in the Eastern Conference Semifinals and edged Detroit 2-1 in the Final.
* The Penguins won a Game 7 in the conference finals for the second straight postseason; they defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning 2-1 last year. The Elias Sports Bureau notes that Pittsburgh became the fifth team in NHL history to win a Game 7 to reach the Stanley Cup Final in consecutive playoff years and first since the Dallas Stars in 1999 and 2000.
* The Penguins improved to 4-1 in five all-time playoff series against the Senators, including four straight series wins dating to the 2008 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals.
Video: OTT@PIT, Gm7: Kunitz wins series in double overtime
KUNITZ SNAPS GOAL DROUGHT IN DRAMATIC FASHION
Penguins forward Chris Kunitz scored his first two goals since Feb. 16 (regular season and playoffs), capped by the series-winner in double overtime.
* Elias notes that Kunitz (37 years, 241 days) became the oldest player in NHL history to score an overtime goal in a Game 7, eclipsing the previous mark set by Scott Walker (35 years, 299 days) of the Carolina Hurricanes in the 2009 Eastern Conference Semifinals at the Boston Bruins.
* Kunitz became the 11th player in NHL history to score the decisive goal in a Game 7 that required multiple overtimes and first since Adam Henrique of the New Jersey Devils in the 2012 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals at the Florida Panthers.
* Kunitz became the fourth player in NHL history to score the decisive goal in a Game 7 that required multiple overtimes to reach the Stanley Cup Final, joining Mel Hill (1939 Semifinals w/ Boston),Ron Schock (1968 Semifinals w/ the St. Louis Blues) and Stephane Matteau (1994 Eastern Conference Final w/ the New York Rangers).
MURRAY CELEBRATES BIRTHDAY WITH GAME 7 VICTORY
Penguins goaltender Matt Murray made 27 saves while celebrating his 23rd birthday to improve to 18-7 in 26 career playoff games (1.94 GAA, .928 SV%, 2 SO), including a 2-0 record in Game 7s (also 2016 conference final vs. Tampa Bay, 2-1 W).
* Elias notes that Murray became the third goaltender in NHL history win a Game 7 on his birthday. The others: Curtis Joseph of the Edmonton Oilers in the 1997 Western Conference Quarterfinals at Dallas and Dan Cloutier of the Vancouver Canucks in the 2003 Western Conference Quarterfinals vs. St. Louis.
* Murray became the second Penguins goaltender to win a Game 7 in the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs, joining Marc-Andre Fleury, who won 2-0 at Washington in the Eastern Conference Second Round. Elias notes that Pittsburgh became the third team in NHL history to have two different goaltenders record Game 7 wins in a single postseason. The others: the Chicago Blackhawks in 1990 (Greg Millen and Ed Belfour) and the Minnesota Wild in 2003 (Manny Fernandez and Dwayne Roloson).
Video: OTT@PIT, Gm7: Murray talks about the Pens' Game 7 win
The Penguins' victory marked the 27th overtime game of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs (81 GP), one shy of tying the NHL record for most in a single postseason (28 in 85 GP in 1993).
* The Penguins scored the fourth series-clinching overtime goal of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs, two shy of the NHL record for most in a single postseason (6 in 1993 and 1999).
* In addition, the 50 one-goal games of any type this postseason (81 GP, 61.7%) are one shy of the single-year NHL record, established in 2007 (51 in 81 GP, 63.0%).
GAME 7 NOTES
* The team that scores first improved to 126-43 (.745) in 169 all-time Game 7s in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, including 2-1 this year.
* Home teams are 99-70 (.585) in the 169 all-time Game 7s in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, including 2-1 this year.
* In all, 41 Game 7s in the Stanley Cup Playoffs have required overtime (24.2%), with home teams owning a 21-20 edge.
2017 STANLEY CUP FINAL TO START MONDAY
The 2017 Stanley Cup Final will begin Monday, May 29, when the Penguins host the Predators in Game 1 at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh.
* The Penguins are making their second consecutive trip to the Stanley Cup Final, while the Predators are making their first appearance since joining the NHL in 1998. Elias notes that since the Stanley Cup came under sole control of the NHL after the 1925-26 season, the 2017 Final will mark the eighth time that a team making consecutive trips to the Final is facing a first-time finalist, and first since the Red Wings defeated the Capitals in 1998.
* NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman rang the opening bell at the Nasdaq Stock Market in New York on Friday to celebrate the 2017 Stanley Cup Final.
Video: Bettman, Stanley Cup Ring Nasdaq Opening Bell
* Media Day in advance of the Stanley Cup Final will take place Sunday, May 28, at PPG Paints Arena. A full schedule of events will be released shortly.
"NAMES ON THE CUP" TO OPEN IN THEATRES ACROSS CANADA MAY 30-31
As part of the NHL's ongoing Centennial celebrations and as a salute to the 125th anniversary of the Stanley Cup, "Names on the Cup," a documentary film showcasing the extraordinary and compelling story of the men whose names are forever immortalized on one of the oldest and most revered trophies in professional sports, will screen at Cineplex theatres across Canada on May 30 and at select locations on May 31. The documentary will air on NBCSN in the U.S. on May 28 at 8 p.m. ET.
The 90-minute documentary features more than 70 NHL players and coaches - past and present - and is narrated by Emmy Award-winning actor Kiefer Sutherland.
NEW EPISODE OF "ALL ACCESS: QUEST FOR THE STANLEY CUP" AIRS FRIDAY
A new episode of Showtime Sports' unprecedented behind-the-scenes documentary series "ALL ACCESS: Quest For The Stanley Cup" will debut Friday at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Showtime in the United States.
Penguins forward Carl Hagelin improved to 8-1 in nine Game 7 appearances. Elias notes that he tied Glenn Anderson (8-4), Ray Bourque (8-1) and Brad Richards (8-0) for the most Game 7 wins in NHL history. … Senators captain Erik Karlsson (0-2-2) had his 15th and 16th assists of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs to establish a franchise record for most in a single postseason, eclipsing the mark set by Dany Heatley and Jason Spezza in 2007 (15).