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Kunitz's double-OT goal sends Penguins back to Stanley Cup

26 May 2017, 01:08 | Stacy Ballard

The Penguins will make their sixth appearance in the Stanley Cup Final, facing the Nashville Predators in a series that starts Monday at PPG Paints Arena. Pittsburgh Penguins' Chris Kunitz (14) celebrates scoring the game-winning goal with Marc-Andre Fleury (29) during the second overtime period of Game 7 of the Eastern Conference final in the NHL Stanley Cup hockey playoffs in.

"We tried to win another way, and we got our butts kicked", Boucher said.

"It's one of those games where when the stakes are this high, anything can happen", said Crosby. Yet here the Senators are, alive and still skating with a chance to eliminate the deeper, more experienced and more explosive Stanley Cup champions. "We've got to give it to them". While slowing down in the conference final amid injuries, fatigue and a nightly duel with Crosby, the 26-year-old captain had a sensational regular season and was even better in series wins over Boston and NY. Our lines are clicking, and offence is being generated, more than any other team in the league right now. Pittsburgh has proven they're able to come alive in tough situations, as they were driven to a game seven by the Washington Capitals in the second round and were able to come out alive.

"We wanted to make then earn it and they earned it, rightfully so", said Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson, who assisted on both of Ottawa's goals and played the entire postseason with a pair of hairline fractures in his left heel. Penguins LW Conor Sheary was back after being a healthy scratch for two consecutive games, replacing RW Josh Archibald. "It's a great opportunity".

Conor Sheary and Kunitz perfectly executed a two-on-one for a 1-0 Penguins lead at 9:55 of the second period, Sheary waiting just long enough before dishing to Kunitz for his first goal since February 16. "Just because he's a little bit older doesn't mean he can't play anymore and I think some people think that". They also had to keep attacking Anderson, who was stellar again.

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"It's just utter disbelief watching that go in the net", Ryan said after the 3-2 defeat on Thursday night.

Not only do teams today have to deftly manage the cap to reach the final these days - constantly turning over talent - but survive injury and random luck over four best-of-seven series. If the Penguins win, they'll be the first Stanley Cup champion to return to the finals since Detroit in 2009. Those same things can be used to predict how teams will perform in certain situations such as Game 7s.

This was obvious in Game 6 when SIdney Crosby kept getting held behind the play or Malkin's stick was getting held and nothing was called.

Kelly has yet to dress since the first round against Boston, but the 36-year-old forward does have 91 games of playoff experience. Subban has been spectacular at times during the playoffs and goaltender Pekka Rinne is playing the finest hockey of his career, helping stoke the passion of a fanbase that likes to sledgehammer beat-up cars in parking lots before games and throw catfish onto the ice during them.

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