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Playoff Buzz: Game 7 lineups up in air for Penguins, Senators

Patric Hornqvist, Justin Schultz game-time decisions for Pittsburgh; Ottawa to insert Chris Kelly or Tommy Wingels

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Welcome to the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoff Buzz, your daily look at the stories impacting the 2016-17 postseason. Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Ottawa Senators is Thursday (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, TVA Sports). NHL.com writers covering the playoffs will be checking in throughout the day to give you latest news. Here is the playoff news for Thursday:

 

2:00 p.m.
Game 7 lineup developments

Ottawa Senators coach Guy Boucher has been in this exact position -- Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final on the road -- before. That was on May 27, 2011, when he was coaching the Tampa Bay Lightning against the Boston Bruins at TD Garden. The Lightning lost the game 1-0. Boucher remembers the details of the game, but as senior writer Dan Rosen writes, it won't define what happens to him and his team.

Boucher also has a decision to make up front for Game 7 against the Pittsburgh Penguins at PPG Paints Arena on Thursday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports). He said he'll choose between center Chris Kelly and right wing Tommy Wingels to insert into the lineup. Rookie center Colin White will be scratched. Rosen has the details on why Boucher will turn to either Kelly or Wingels.

As for the Penguins, coach Mike Sullivan said he has some game-time decisions to make with his lineup too. Will forward Patric Hornqvist play? Will defenseman Justin Schultz play? Staff writer Tom Gulitti breaks down the Penguins roster and what it all means.

Regardless of the lineup decisions, one thing we do know is the Penguins have more experience in Game 7 situations than the Senators. Left wing Carl Hagelin, in particular, has had a Game 7 in every season of his career. He's been in the Eastern Conference Final in every postseason but one (2013). Gulitti wrote about Hagelin's experience and how it could prove to be valuable.

Correspondent Wes Crosby has 5 keys to Game 7 with projected lineups.

 

9:17 a.m.
Penguins, Senators set for Game 7

For the second straight year the Pittsburgh Penguins will play Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final at home. Last year they defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning, and on Thursday they will look to get past the Ottawa Senators and return to the Stanley Cup Final. 

The first goal could be crucial Thursday. There have been 168 Game 7s played in the history of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and the team that has scored first is 125-43, including 1-1 this season. In those 168 games, the home team is 98-70. 

The Penguins are 9-7 all-time in Game 7s, including 3-7 at home. The Senators are 0-5 in Game 7s, with four of them on the road.

Here is a look at all the key stats for Game 7 between the Penguins and Senators.

Of course, the biggest X-factor in Game 7 could be Penguins captain Sidney Crosby, according to NHL.com Staff Writer Tom Gulitti.

Senators goalie Craig Anderson is confident his team will win Game 7, reports NHL.com Senior Writer Dan Rosen.

The Western Conference champion Nashville Predators got some good news Wednesday concerning their captain, Mike Fisher, writes NHL.com Correspondent Robby Stanley.

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