NHL Playoffs: Game 7 tonight in Pittsburgh

A day before the Ottawa Senators staved off elimination in the Eastern Conference final, Chris Kelly got up in front of the group and offered his bit of veteran wisdom.

Schultz was playing his first game since slamming shoulder-first into the boards in Game 2 of the series. Anderson, who stopped 45 of 46 shots in game six, made 39 saves Thursday. "The last four games of this series, we found our game".

"There's no guarantees", Crosby said. It would be especially impressive given the Penguins injury woes, which have sidelined No. 1 defender Kris Letang, No. 1 goaltender Matt Murray as well as a whole host of other key regulars, including top point-producing defenceman Justin Schultz. Game 1 of the finals is Monday night.

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 National Hockey League finale for the first time since 2007.

The Senators were bidding to make it for the first time since 2007 but instead dropped to 0-6 all-time in Game 7s.

The Sens, more broadly, became the kind of team Guy Boucher envisioned when he took over as head coach one year ago.

While both Boucher and Sullivan are doing their best to try and keep their teams focused on the process and not the outcome, in some ways it's a fool's errand.

Delivering a soliloquy of sorts after the loss, Karlsson spoke calmly of coming so close and yet remaining so far.

The Penguins, meanwhile, might have some reinforcements for Game 7.

There is hope for the Senators moving forward with Karlsson leading a relatively young core, Anderson among the best at his position, and promising prospects like Colin White and Thomas Chabot on the way. They played their roles, but it seemed like every game had a different hero.

Boucher took the Lightning to the Eastern Conference final in his first season there, missed the playoffs the next season and was sacked the year after that. 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.

But the very next shift, Ottawa evened it up on Stone's fifth of the playoffs.

Kunitz ended a 25-game playoff goal drought when he completed a 2-on-1 with Conor Sheary — a healthy scratch in Games 5 and 6 — by slipping the puck by Anderson 9:55 into the second period.

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.

Anderson continued to shine in the third. Kunitz finished off a Sheary pass, ending a long goal drought. The Predators will play either Ottawa or Pittsburgh.

  • Julie Sanders