Tampa Bay Lightning's Chris Kunitz brings unique track record into Game 7
Former Penguins winger Chris Kunitz and his Tampa Bay Lightning teammates are preparing to face the Washington Capitals in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals Wednesday night.
The last goal Kunitz scored in a Game 7 was a fairly famous one.
Chris Kunitz game-winning goal in 2OT. Penguins defeat Senators 3-2 in overtime! Pens Up pic.twitter.com/zVSyv7WKg2— Tailgate Sports (@_TailgateSports) May 26, 2017
One year ago Friday, he took a pass from Sidney Crosby and fluttered a shot past goalie Craig Anderson 5 minutes, 9 seconds into the second overtime to give the Penguins a 3-2 win over the Ottawa Senators in the final game of the Eastern Conference finals.
Kunitz also scored in the second period of that game, converting a Conor Sheary pass to give the Penguins a 1-0 lead.
Even Penguins fans with a vivid memory of that night might not be aware of this strange-but-true stat: Those are the only two playoff goals Kunitz has scored in the past two-plus postseasons.
Kunitz had a three-game scoring streak for the Penguins in Games 3, 4 and 5 of the 2016 Eastern Conference finals against the Lightning.
Since then, he has played 44 playoff games in eight series for two different teams. The two shots that beat Anderson last May are his only playoff goals during that stretch.
The Lightning probably aren't too broken up about Kunitz's goal drought given his role on the team. They brought in the 38-year-old winger largely for his championship experience and physical play on the fourth line, and he has provided in both those areas.
Earlier this week, Kunitz told reporters in Tampa that he saw some similarities between this year's Lightning and his previous Stanley Cup-winning teams with the Penguins and Anaheim Ducks.
"They all have similarities," Kunitz said. "We have a really good group of guys and we enjoy being at the rink together. We always enjoy doing things, even if it's lounging around the hotel. We're always trying to talk hockey, trying to get better. When guys enjoy being with each other, you tend to make it a little farther in playoffs.
"We have one more big game before we can get to fight for one more huge Cup. We have to go out there and have our best game."
Jonathan Bombulie is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @BombulieTrib.