PITTSBURGH -- Carl Hagelin has been here before. A lot.
The 28-year-old left wing will play in the ninth Game 7 of his NHL career when the Pittsburgh Penguins face the Ottawa Senators in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final at PPG Paints Arena on Thursday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports). The winner will advance to face the Nashville Predators in the Stanley Cup Final.
Hagelin has a 7-1 record in Game 7s. He has played in the Stanley Cup Final twice, losing with the New York Rangers against the Los Angeles Kings in 2014 and winning with the Penguins against the San Jose Sharks last season. In the six seasons since Hagelin entered the League in 2011-12, he has reached at least the Eastern Conference Final five times.
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The lone season he didn't make it this far in the Stanley Cup Playoffs was 2013, when the Rangers lost to the Boston Bruins in the second round. But Hagelin has learned not to take any of this for granted.
"You keep hearing from everyone that if you get here early in your career you might think that's going to happen every year," he said. "But some guys go eight or 10 years with nothing after reaching a Stanley Cup Final. You see teams being in the Final and not even making the playoffs [the next season]. So it's definitely nothing I take for granted. It's something I have a lot of pride in."
This will be Hagelin's 108th playoff game since 2012, the most in the NHL during that span; Brian Boyle of the Toronto Maple Leafs is second with 101. Each of Hagelin's six NHL seasons has included at least one Game 7.
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His seven Game 7 wins are the most among those playing Thursday, and his eight previous Game 7s are tied with Penguins teammate Chris Kunitz for most among those who will play Thursday.
"I've been fortunate to be on the right side a lot of times," said Hagelin, who has two assists in his eight Game 7s.
Hagelin's run of success in Game 7s began during the first playoff series of his NHL career, which, by coincidence, was against the Senators. The Rangers won 2-1 at home.
Hagelin and the Rangers won two Game 7s that year, another in 2013 and two more on their way to the Stanley Cup Final in 2014. His personal Game 7 record reached 6-0 when he and the Rangers won 2-1 in overtime against the Washington Capitals in the second round in 2015. His run ended in the Eastern Conference Final with a 2-0 loss in Game 7 against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
After the Penguins acquired Hagelin in a trade with the Anaheim Ducks last season, he helped the Penguins defeat the Lightning 2-1 in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final. This season the Penguins defeated the Capitals 2-0 in Game 7 of the second round, but Hagelin didn't play because of a lower-body injury.
Now he's healthy again and looking forward to another Game 7 opportunity.
"These are the games you want to play in," Hagelin said. "I'm very happy and proud to be a part of such a great team as this and the teams I've been part of in the past. ... We're looking forward to this challenge that we've got ahead of us [Thursday]. I think we're an excited group. We're very excited."