It was close but the Pittsburgh Penguins will now have a chance to defend their Stanley Cup title.
The Penguins prevailed over a determined Ottawa Senators team that redeemed itself after an ugly 7-0 bludgeoning in game five last Sunday.
Penguins winger Chris Kunitz put his team ahead with a second period goal.
Pittsburgh was then caught sleeping on the very next shift and the Senators tied the score a mere twenty seconds later.
That one sucked the air out of PPG Paints Arena and was a massive error by the Penguins who should know that teams come out flying hoping to capitalize on the shift following a score. This is hockey 101 and a lapse that was inexcusable in such a crucial game.
The teams traded goals in the third period. Pittsburgh scored on a power play goal by Justin Schultz (assisted by Kunitz) to briefly regain the lead.
Ottawa quickly retaliated though when Ryan Dzingel put the puck behind Penguins goalie Matt Murray to knot it at 2 apiece.
The game went to overtime and the crowd was at the edge of their seats.
The first extra period was scoreless. Then just over five minutes into the second overtime, it was Kunitz again with slap shot that beat Senators goalie Craig Anderson.
Oh… And that double OT goal was scored by CHRIS KUNITZ! With assists to Sidney Crosby and Justin Schultz. pic.twitter.com/dkkgEdL926
— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) May 26, 2017
The building then erupted as the Penguins punched their ticket to the finals and a shot at a rare repeat championship.
Despite what was a crushing loss, much credit should go to the team from Ottawa. They responded like champions after Sunday’s blowout and were tenacious in the final two games. Anderson was masterful with another fine game on Thursday, he had 39 saves before giving up the decisive goal.
Hats off to both teams in a series that was predicted to be an easy win for Pittsburgh.
The Penguins will now advance to meet the well-rested Nashville Predators who benefitted greatly from the East finals going the distance to rest and heal up.
The puck drops for game one of the Stanley Cup finals at 8 PM ET on Monday in Pittsburgh.