Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Nashville Predators - 5/29/17 NHL Pick, Odds, and Prediction

Ottawa Senators' Chris Wideman Craig Anderson and Bobby Ryan left to right are felled with disappointment after the series-winning goal by Chris Kunitz of the Pittsburgh Penguins in the second overtime of Game 7 in Pittsburgh on Thursday

Ottawa Senators' Chris Wideman Craig Anderson and Bobby Ryan left to right are felled with disappointment after the series-winning goal by Chris Kunitz of the Pittsburgh Penguins in the second overtime of Game 7 in Pittsburgh on Thursday

"He stopped in that area".

If you watched the entirety of Game 7, you probably felt it all along: the sense that, "Man, I don't know how the Penguins could lose this one, but Ottawa is something special".

With that pass and shot, the Pittsburgh Penguins defeated the Ottawa Senators 3-2 in double overtime on Thursday and advanced to the Stanley Cup finals for the second consecutive year.

The field is set for the 2017 Stanley Cup Finals.

Yet for all the resiliency the Penguins have shown during their injury-marred title defense, they are taking nothing for granted heading into Game 1 on Monday night. None of it has come easy. That may be a stretch, because Karlsson is the reigning Norris Trophy victor.

That was proven in a most painful way, as the Penguins endured the sobering realization that a dynasty was lost before back-to-back Cups could be won. This game was the culmination. And the deeper you go, the less you get. "Maybe we've done a better job these last couple of games". When the Stars' season ended in game seven of the Western Conference semifinals previous year, it was clear that Fiddler, who was a pending UFA at the time, might never skate another game in Victory Green. While skating primarily on the fourth line during his tenure in Dallas, he provided valuable depth scoring, putting 43 goals and 112 points up. The first team to win in the other team's barn immediately becomes the favorite to win the series.

But he was the target of constant abuse from the Senators. The two legacy centres though - the one who made the Top 100 list and the one who was somehow left off - are the test for the Nashville (no centre) Predators.

After that game, his father, Troy, told his son how proud he was that he didn't retaliate.

With Crosby, though, Cullen is impressed with sense of the occasion. Predators general manager David Poile said Wednesday there's "a real good chance" Fisher could return in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals on May 29. You can't go 25 feet in Pittsburgh without seeing some display of affection for their Penguins.

Long in the shadow of Crosby, Malkin was oddly snubbed for the NHL's 100 greatest players list despite boasting career numbers that match nearly anyone - even Crosby. The Senators are 0-6 in Game 7s in franchise history.

Now - with our grudging congratulations - the Pittsburgh Penguins will head to the Stanley Cup finals to face the Nashville Predators.

The Penguins have four of the top six scorers this postseason in forwards Malkin (playoff-leading 24 points), Crosby (20), Phil Kessel (19) and Jake Guentzel (16). "I'm lucky to play on a team with Sidney Crosby". With the Oilers' wunderkind Connor McDavid close on his heels as the best in the game, this would be more proof Sid still is on the throne.

"It's fun to see", Ogrean said.

"He's motivated. He's hungry", Troy Crosby said. "But in saying that, when the game starts, that guy is as competitive as it gets". There was an extra jump in Crosby's game, as there was in a number of Penguins. Now they're here again, aware of the stakes but hardly caught up in the hype. Jonathan Ericsson had the sole goal in Game 7, which saw the Wings lose, 2-1, at Joe Louis Arena.

Relief eventually made way for excitement.

Getting back to the Stanley Cup Final didn't require that much, really.

When Penguins' GM Jim Rutherford hired Mike Sullivan, he compared him to Nashville coach Peter Laviolette, someone he got to know very well when the pair was together in Carolina. He encouraged his team to "just play", code for fighting through Ottawa's neutral zone-clogging style and the bumping, grabbing and pulling that comes along with it.

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