NHL-Kunitz at the double to send Pens to Stanley Cup Finals



Fri, 26 May 2017 - 08:45 GMT


Fri, 26 May 2017 - 08:45 GMT

Pittsburgh Penguins center Matt Cullen (7) Chris Kunitz (14) and Conor Sheary (43) celebrate- Don Wright-USA TODAY Sports via Reuters

Pittsburgh Penguins center Matt Cullen (7) Chris Kunitz (14) and Conor Sheary (43) celebrate- Don Wright-USA TODAY Sports via Reuters

May 26 (The Sports Xchange) - Chris Kunitz scored his second goal of the game at 5:09 in double overtime to send the Pittsburgh Penguins to the Stanley Cup Finals with a thrilling 3-2 win over the Ottawa Senators in Game Seven of their Eastern Conference Finals on Thursday.

The Penguins, in the NHL title series for the fourth time in 10 years, will begin the defence of their 2016 crown with a home game on Monday when the Western Conference champion Nashville Predators arrive for Game One of the best-of-seven set.

Kunitz used to be a regular line mate of Sidney Crosby's in previous years and that familiar chemistry with his captain, who got the key assist, played a major role in the series-clinching goal in front of a delirious packed home crowd.

The Senators were so focused on Crosby that the 37-year-old winger was able to set up unguarded and he turned back the clock with a pile-driver into the top left-hand corner.

"(Winger Conor Sheary) did a really good job of bringing it up the wall and walking the blue (line)," Kunitz told reporters.

"I think Sid came right off the bench. When he drives it deep, everyone (on the opposing team) gets scared and you can find that soft area. Obviously, Sid's got great vision. He put it right there."

It was just as comfortable for Crosby.

"I've definitely seen that one from him before," Crosby said. "With the way he was holding the stick you could tell he wanted it bad. I just tried to lay it there for him."

Pittsburgh will be trying to become the first repeat title winners since the Detroit claimed back-to-back Stanley Cups in 1997-98, while Ottawa fell short of making the NHL finale for the first time since 2007.


Pittsburgh goaltender Matt Murray, playing on his 23rd birthday, stopped 27-of-29 Senators shots as Ottawa goalie Craig Anderson, who stopped 45-of-46 shots in the Game Six win, made 39 saves on Thursday.

"Shock, I think at the moment," Anderson said of the emotion after the loss. "It's surreal. It doesn't feel like it's actually happening, but it is.

"We played our hearts out and gave everything we have and we've got nothing to be ashamed of and we laid it out there and we put it on the line and guys were dog tired out there and battling and it just wasn't in the cards for us."

The game was nearly halfway through regulation before the Penguins scored the first goal off a two-on-one against Ottawa defenseman Erik Karlsson.

Kunitz one-timed a pass from Conor Sheary in tight to make it 1-0 at 9:55 of the second period as the winger scored a first goal in his last 22 playoff games.

The lead was short-lived, however as just 20 seconds later, Mark Stone tied it for the Senators, taking a short pass from Karlsson and, from the lower part of the right circle, lifting the puck over Murray's glove.

Justin Schultz then scored on a blast from the center point at 11:44 of the third on Pittsburgh's first power-play of the game to give the home team a 2-1 lead.

At 14:41 of the third, Ryan Dzingel lifted the Senators into a 2-2 tie when he scored on a rebound of a Karlsson shot.

Crosby ranked the win among the best he has played in.

"It's up there," he said. "Playing against a team like that, you just have to stay with it and stay poised, and I thought we did a great job at that."



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