Kunitz's 2-OT goal sends Pens to Final

The Penguins, in the National Hockey League 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.

The Penguins dictated the terms starting with the first overtime period, when they accounted for eight of the 10 shots on goal.

"We deserve this one all the way through".

The Penguins are trying to become the first team since the Detroit Red Wings in 1998 to win back-to-back titles. We've got your way to watch via live stream on May 25 at 8pm EST to see who will move on to the Stanley Cup championship. The 36-year-old forward may dress now in Game 7 because of that leadership dynamic, Senators head coach Guy Boucher said Thursday morning.

The Senators were bidding to make it for the first time since 2007 but instead dropped to 0-6 all-time in Game 7s. Meanwhile the Penguins have a 9-7 record in game sevens (but only 3-7 at home), most recently winning game seven on the road against the Capitals in the second round.

Much of the Penguins' successes over the years can be tied to Mario Lemieux, Jaromir Jagr, Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, but it could be a former third-round draft pick who leads them in Game 7.

The Senators forced a return trip to Pittsburgh - where they lost 7-0 loss in Game 5 on Sunday - by leaning heavily on Anderson in a 2-1 Game 6 victory, putting both teams at odds with history.

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"That's probably been my toughest decision all year long - to keep him out (of most playoff) games", Boucher said Thursday morning of Kelly, who had played only one post-season game previously after suiting up in all 82 during the regular season.

"There's no guarantees", Crosby said. They are going to need at least the same effort in order to come out on top again.

Crosby is 4-2 career in Game 7s with two goals and two assists, though he has only a single assist in the last five such games. For his career he's produced 20 goals, 41 points and one game-winner in 112 games, but his performances in the playoffs that make him unsafe Thursday night. He also wanted to make sure his teammates remained poised as the pressure rose.

Steam seemed to be building in the Pens favour in the second when Kunitz finally gave them the first lead at the midway point of the second, finishing a two-on-rush with Conor Sheary.

Or that, on the whole, they'd be entirely too exhausted, constantly hearing that teams coming off a long run the year before don't have enough left in the tank to do it again, let alone in a year that also featured worldwide competition.

"He is a big game player", said Crosby of longtime linemate Kunitz.

Chris Kunitz is the hero for the Penguins in Game 7. Defenceman Cody Ceci had the second-most ice time among Senators skaters, behind Karlsson, but struggled, posting a team-worst 45.8 CF%, and on the ice for seven goals for and 15 against in the postseason.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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