The Pittsburgh Penguins are going to the Stanley Cup Finals for the second straight season and will have a chance to repeat as champions thanks to Chris Kunitz.
5:09 into the second overtime of their Game 7 tilt with the Ottawa Senators, Penguins center Sidney Crosby found Kunitz open in the high-slot who then one-timed it past Senators netminder Craig Anderson for the game-winner.
“It doesn’t matter who scores. We’re happy the game ended and we’re on the top side of it,” Kunitz said after the game.
It was the second career playoff overtime game-winner for the 15-year veteran — the first time in 2013 against the New York Islanders. Sidney Crosby assisted on that tally, as well.
Kunitz — who was held without goal throughout the entire postseason prior to tonight — opened the game’s scoring 9:55 into the second period. Ottawa would knot things up 20 seconds later on the stick of Mark Stone.
The game would remained deadlock until 11:44 into the third when Justin Schultz — on the powerplay — would push the Penguins ahead 2-1. But once again, the Senators would tie it up quickly thereafter — 2:57 to be exact — thanks to a gritty effort from Ryan Dzingel.
Pittsburgh outshot the Senators for the game 42-29, including 9-4 in the period and change of overtime hockey.
The Penguins will meet the Nashville Predators in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals Monday night in Pittsburgh. The Predators took care of the Anaheim Ducks in the Western Conference Finals in six games to advance to their first ever Cup final.
Pittsburgh will be searching for their fifth Stanley Cup in franchise history, having captured No. 4 last year in six games over the San Jose Sharks.
Meanwhile, with Ottawa now finished — the drought will continue for the nation of Canada who has not seen a Stanley Cup champion since the Montreal Canadiens did it in 1993. The last team from up north to appear in the Stanley Cup Finals was the Vancouver Canucks in 2011, who lost in seven games to the Boston Bruins.