The Pittsburgh Penguins have lost in the first round of the playoffs for four-straight seasons. Many fans long for the days of epic victories and Stanley Cup parades. On this date, five years ago, came one of the most iconic moments in Penguins franchise history.
In double overtime of Game 7 against the Ottawa Senators, Sidney Crosby found longtime linemate Chris Kunitz for an all-time goal that sent the Penguins into the Stanley Cup Finals for a second-straight season.
That goal was Kunitz’s second of the game, but what many don’t remember is that, prior to Game 7, Kunitz had gone scoreless in the final 21 games of the regular season and the first 13 goals of the playoffs.
Heading into that game the Penguins and Senators had been deadlocked in the series. Both teams owned a single blowout victory with the rest of the games being decided by one goal. Game 7 was more of the same as Kunitz opened the scoring halfway through the second period by finishing off a pass from Conor Sheary on a two on one. Mark Stone tied it for the Senators 20 seconds later.
In the third period, Justin Schultz blew the roof off of PPG Paints Arena with a slap shot from the point to give the Penguins a 2-1 lead with just over eight minutes left in the game. The Senators responded as Ryan Dzingel buried a rebound off of the post to beat Matt Murray and tie the game again.
Fast forward to the 5:09 mark of the second overtime and a moment that will live on in Penguins history.
The Penguins went on to defeat the Nashville Predators in six games to capture the franchises fifth Stanley Cup victory, and second in as many years. Those two Game 7 goals would end up being Kunitz’s last in a Penguins uniform.
In the fall of 2017 the Penguins added a mural to the first floor concourse, detailing the greatest moments of the Penguins five Stanley Cup runs. Kunitz’s overtime heroics are present next to Nick Bonino’s 2016 winner against the Washington Capitals, Marc-Andre Fleury’s save on Nick Lidstrom in 2009, Jaromir Jagr’s weaving tying goal from Game 1 against the Blackhawks in 1992, and Mario Lemieux’s iconic goal on John Casey in 1991.
While the recent playoff performance of the Penguins has been less than stellar, fans can still look back at moments like this to remind themselves of the peak of the Sidney Crosby era.
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