Mike Hoffman scored the tiebreaking goal early in the third period to give the Ottawa Senators a 2-1 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Tuesday night and force a decisive Game 7 in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Hoffman fired a slap shot through traffic off a pass from Fredrik Claesson to put the Senators ahead at 1:34 of the third.
Bobby Ryan also scored a rare power-play goal for Ottawa and Craig Anderson stopped 45 shots, including 22 in the second period.
Evgeni Malkin gave Pittsburgh, vying for its second straight trip to the Stanley Cup Final, the lead early in the second period and Matt Murray finished with 28 saves.
— NHL (@NHL) May 24, 2017
Game 7 is Thursday night in Pittsburgh, with the winner advancing to face the Nashville Predators for the championship.
The Senators managed to quickly forget a 7-0 loss two days earlier in Game 5 and extend their season for one more shoot at a return to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in 10 years. and land one more shot at a first Stanley Cup final appearance in 10 years.
Ottawa was primarily looking for a return to structure in Game 6, beginning with a smoother start – which they got. Notable in a scoreless opening period were two effective penalty kills, one of which saw Viktor Stalberg get the best opportunity short-handed.
Pittsburgh had four shots with the man advantage, but Anderson stopped them all. The 35-year-old struggled through Games 4 and 5 – allowing seven goals – but it was evident early that he had his game back in this one. He stopped Nick Bonino off a rebound in transition, Scott Wilson off a deflected shot by Phil Kessel, and Bonino again when Kyle Turris gave the puck away.
Murray was also sharp. The 22-year-old, who replaced Marc-Andre Fleury after Game 3, made maybe his finest save of the first on Derick Brassard, who found an open lane down the middle of the ice following a pass from Ryan.
The Penguins appeared to have opened the scoring just over three minutes into the second, but Trevor Daley was deemed to have interfered with Anderson following an Ottawa challenge.
Less than two minutes later though, Pittsburgh took the 1-0 lead anyway off a few moments of brilliance from Malkin. The playoff scoring leading (24 points) bounced off a check from Zack Smith behind the goal and after being stopped on his drive to the net, followed up with a nifty backhand rebound to beat Anderson.
— NHL (@NHL) May 24, 2017
It was the 153rd career playoff point in 142 games for Malkin – three back of Sidney Crosby for second among active players behind Jaromir Jagr – who had been jarring with Hoffman a few minutes earlier.
The Senators had little going until a lengthy 5-on-3 advantage for 1:24 just past the midway point of the period. The Ottawa power play, which had gone 0 for 29 in the previous 10 games, came through with Ryan ultimately wiring a one-timer short-side to tie the score.
It was the sixth goal and 15th point of the playoffs for Ryan, who is second on the Senators behind captain Erik Karlsson (16 points).