Dunlap: 5 Keys To Game 7 For The Penguins

IF that was the last home game of the season and the Senators do come up short in Pittsburgh (and I am not saying they will), at least they finished on a high note and pushed it to the brink at a time when I think there was a lot of doubt creeping into a lot of minds (outside the dressing room) after the drubbing they took in Pittsburgh.

With the Senators trying to get to the Stanley Cup final for the first time since 2007, Mike Hoffman scored the victor early in the third period and goaltender Craig Anderson came up big, sending the series to Game 7 on Thursday night at Pittsburgh's PPG Paints Arena. Guy Boucher's infamous trap must be better than it was in Game 5, when Pittsburgh beat Ottawa 7-0. "You want an National Hockey League job where you have a chance", Boucher said. You don't get to the Eastern Conference Finals without having that ability to bounce back.

Fredrik Claesson of Ottawa celebrates after teammate Mike Hoffman scored 1 minute, 34 seconds into the third period to put the Senators ahead.

Bobby Ryan also scored a rare power-play goal for Ottawa.

The first period Tuesday did not include a four-goal outburst like Game 5, but the Penguins were mostly solid, creating offense from deep in the zone, something they lacked in the first three games of the series. Or Pittsburgh's fresh memory of beating Washington 2-0 in Game 7 of the previous round. "Let's embrace this opportunity to extend this for two more days together and go from there".

"We've got to regroup here, but we did a lot of good things and probably deserved better tonight", Crosby said.

"I think me and Sid, we always feel pressure, like every game", Malkin said.

"I think we played the way we need to", Murray said.

"I knew right off the bat when we took a couple of penalties we had to be on our game", Anderson said. Something as small as that could serve as a major detail in a decisive game like the one going to be played Uptown on Thursday night against Ottawa.

Ottawa Senators goalie Craig Anderson (41) and Senators defenseman Dion Phaneuf (2) celebrate after defeating the Pittsburgh Penguins in game six of the Eastern Conference final in the NHL Stanley Cup hockey playoffs in Ottawa on Tuesday, May 23, 2017.

Ottawa was looking primarily for a return to structure in Game 6, beginning with a smoother start - which it got.

Anderson's performance was even more impressive for coming on the heels of an bad Game 5, in which he was pulled after allowing four goals on 14 shots. The 35-year-old struggled through Games 4 and 5 - allowing seven goals - but it was evident early that he had his game back in this one.

He stopped Nick Bonino off a rebound in transition, Scott Wilson off a deflected shot by Phil Kessel, and Bonino again when Kyle Turris gave away the puck.

"We want to get on the offence a little more", MacArthur said. Boucher smartly used a "coach's challenge" to have the play reviewed.

"That wasn't a turning point, but a building point", said Ryan. "I've lived it for quite a few years, and it's hell when you don't have it because everything you do turns to darkness, and there's nothing that really matters when you don't have a real No. 1 goaltender".

It's like a quarterback in football, a pitcher in baseball.

The Penguins also can take confidence from the strong form of Matt Murray. Their scoring power goes far beyond Sidney Crosby and a goal can come from any player at nearly any time.

Head coach Guy Boucher hinted at either White or veteran Chris Kelly drawing into the lineup if the club opted to dress 12 forwards and six defencemen against the Pittsburgh Penguins, who lead the best-of-seven series 3-2.

It was the sixth goal and 15th point of the playoffs for Ryan, who is second on the Senators behind captain Erik Karlsson (16 points).

  • Julie Sanders