PITTSBURGH (AP) — Chris Kunitz spent a portion of the spring nursing a lower-body injury and wondering if his time with the Pittsburgh Penguins was over. The veteran forward’s contract is up this summer and he’s been around long enough to know how these things go, particularly when you’re 37.
“It’s not fun thinking about the future,” Kunitz said.
He found a pretty compelling way to put it off for at least four more games and push his team to the brink of history in the process.
Kunitz’s knuckling shot from outside the circle fluttered past Craig Anderson 5:09 into the second overtime to give the defending Stanley Cup champions a 3-2 victory over the Ottawa Senators in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference final Thursday night.
Thrust alongside old linemate Sidney Crosby as the game wore on, the two reconnected for a goal that moved the Penguins closer to becoming the first team since the 1998 Detroit Red Wings to win back-to-back titles. Crosby sent a soft backhand pass from the right faceoff circle to Kunitz and for a moment, it seemed like old times.
“With the way he was holding the stick you could tell he wanted it bad,” Crosby said. “I just tried to lay it there for him. I’ve seen him score from there pretty often. It was a huge goal for us, and a great reward for him for the way he played all night.”
Kunitz scored twice, his first two of the playoffs. Justin Schultz added the other in his return from an upper-body injury, and Matt Murray stopped 27 shots on his 23rd birthday. The Penguins will host Western Conference champion Nashville in…