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[May 25, 2017]  The Ottawa Senators bounced back from a lopsided drubbing with a gritty home victory over the reigning Stanley Cup champions to force a decisive Game 7 in the Eastern Conference final. Ottawa looks to advance to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since 2007 and deny Pittsburgh a return trip when they visit the Penguins on Thursday night.

Continuing their improbable postseason journey will require the Senators to dethrone Pittsburgh at PPG Paints Arena -- a venue where they suffered a humbling 7-0 beatdown in Game 5. “We wanted to force Game 7 and that’s what we did," Ottawa forward Zack Smith said while acknowledging the Senators are well aware they are considered an overwhelming underdog. “That’s fine with us. I feel it’s been that way for most of the year and playoffs. That’s fine, we’ll play that role.” The Penguins are bidding to become the first team to make back-to-back appearances in the Cup Final since they turned the trick in 2008-09, but have a checkered history in winner-takes-all matchups with an all-time record of 3-7 record in Game 7s at home. “We’ve been in this situation before,” Pittsburgh defenseman Trevor Daley said. “We’re a confident team in here. We have a lot of veteran guys. We’ve been here before. We know what we need to do to get the job done in Game 7.”

TV: 8 p.m. ET, NBC, CBC, TVAS

ABOUT THE SENATORS: Craig Anderson was away from the team for half the season to be with his wife during her cancer treatments, so the fact the he bounced back with a superlative 45-save effort in Game 6 after being yanked in the 7-0 debacle was no surprise to Ottawa. "It starts with the goalie," Senators coach Guy Boucher said. "It's like a quarterback in football and a pitcher in baseball, and we have it. We got that guy." Veteran Bobby Ryan, taken No. 2 overall in the 2005 NHL draft behind Pittsburgh captain Sidney Crosby, scored 13 times in 62 regular-season games but has six goals in 18 playoff contests after his tying tally in Game 6. Ryan's goal also ended Ottawa's 0-for-29 power-play drought.

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ABOUT THE PENGUINS: Pittsburgh has the luxury of sending out a pair of Conn Smythe Trophy winners in Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, who guided the team to Cup titles in 2016 and 2009, respectively. Crosby scored in three straight games prior to Tuesday's 2-1 setback and is tied for second in the postseason in scoring with 19 points. "I just think he in particular has played in arguably the most high-stakes environments in all different venues, whether it be the NHL, the Olympics, the World Cup," Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. "He has such a wealth of experience to draw on and he's a fierce competitor." So is Malkin, who scored Pittsburgh's lone goal in Game 6 to boost his playoff-leading total to 24 points.


1. Ottawa has never won a Game 7 (0-5) but Anderson is 3-1 with a 0.76 goals-against average in his last four starts when facing elimination.

2. Crosby has two goals and two assists and Malkin six assists in six Game 7s for Pittsburgh, which has lost seven in a row at home after falling in Game 6 of a playoff series.

3. Sullivan said F Patric Hornqvist and D Justin Schultz could return for Game 7.

PREDICTION: Penguins 4, Senators 2

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