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Senators in 'utter disbelief' after Game 7, double-overtime loss

Fall one game short of Stanley Cup Final when Penguins score

by Dan Rosen @drosennhl / NHL.com Senior Writer

PITTSBURGH -- Bobby Ryan had the perfect view to watch the Ottawa Senators' season end.

"I just want to go home," Ryan said.

Oh, he would, eventually, with one bitter memory that won't fade any time soon.

Ryan was standing directly next to Ottawa goalie Craig Anderson when the puck, which came off the stick of Pittsburgh Penguins forward Chris Kunitz, fluttered end-over-end into the net at 5:09 of double overtime to hand the Senators a 3-2, series-ending loss in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final at PPG Paints Arena on Thursday.

There was nothing Ryan could do but bend his body slightly, just enough to put his hands, still holding his stick, on his knees. The Penguins celebrated in the corner having clinched a date with the Nashville Predators in the Stanley Cup Final.

 

[RELATED: Senators focused on positives despite falling in Game 7]

 

"I got to see it go in in slo-mo," Ryan said. "It felt like it, especially because it was an off-speed shot. It was a fan, but it worked. He didn't get all of it. Maybe if he gets all of it it's high and wide, you never know. But you don't want to speculate on that either. It's just utter disbelief watching it go in like that."

The Senators, who gained a reputation in the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs as a resilient team, proved it again by tying Game 7 twice.

Video: OTT@PIT, Gm7: Stone fires slick wrister past Murray

After Kunitz gave Pittsburgh a 1-0 lead, Ottawa trailed for 20 seconds in the second period before forward Mark Stone scored to make it 1-1 at 10:15. When Justin Schultz put the Penguins ahead 2-1, the Senators trailed for 2:57 in the third period before forward Ryan Dzingel made it 2-2 at 14:41. 

Ottawa was chasing but hanging on in the first overtime, when Pittsburgh outshot them 8-2. The Senators had two good shots on goal in the second overtime before the Penguins got their first, Kunitz's game-winner.

"I have no words to explain that, really," said Ottawa forward Jean-Gabriel Pageau, who was on the ice for that goal. "It [stinks] to see the puck in the net. You know your goalie is doing the job, he's done the job all series, all playoffs, all year. I think we deserved a better fate for sure."

The Senators, who finished second in the Atlantic Division, defeated the Boston Bruins and New York Rangers in the first two rounds and led the conference final 1-0 and 2-1 before losing three of their final four games.

"It's heartbreaking to realize we have two days together here to say goodbye and then you're gone for the summer," Ryan said. "We weren't ready for it to end, but they came up one shot better."

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

Ryan said the outcome will eventually serve as motivation and fuel for the Senators to never feel like this again.

"Yeah, it will be, absolutely," he said. "And it'll be something that I'm sure we'll use next year going into games." 

For now, Ryan will not soon forget where he was standing and what he was watching at 11:52 p.m. ET Thursday, May 25, 2017.

"We're right there, but it feels miles away right now when you watch that one cross the line and go in the back of the net," Ryan said. "I'm just extremely proud of the guys. We were in every game. Despite the naysayers, critics, everything like that, we just continued to be resilient and hang in. After a couple days of thinking on it, I think we'll be able to give some better answers, but right now you're just trying to move on as quickly as you can."

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