Montreal Canadiens vs. Ottawa Senators -- Game 5

Ottawa built off last year’s Game 7 disappointment


MONTREAL,QUEBEC — Watching the Ottawa Senators roll past a beat up and depleted Montreal Canadiens team in five games was an upset when going by the seeding, but their rise to success this year was built in part by what this team learned last year.

The Sens nearly pulled off a stunning upset last season as the eighth seed against the East’s No. 1 team, the New York Rangers. They pushed them to seven games before ultimately coming up short in the final game. The lessons learned from that loss stuck with this year’s team.

“We’ve got a lot of guys that have come up the last few years and it’s a great experience,” captain Daniel Alfredsson said. “I think we learned what it takes in the playoffs. It’s physical, it’s mentally tough, and it’s a grind. I think we were definitely ready for that. I thought we did a good job last year too but it seems that this year we’re a little bit better as a team and that helps.”

The Sens weren’t pushed to the brink in this series, but as goalie Craig Anderson says, last year’s loss helped them figure out what’s needed to get done.

“You grow every time you get knocked down you get back up and you learn from it,” he said. “It was huge for us to learn from our mistakes.”

Defenseman Erik Karlsson summed it up a little more directly.

“We know how much it sucks to lose certain games and it feels good to be on the other side,” he said.

The Sens now wait to see how the rest of the Eastern Conference plays out and a date in the second round with the Pittsburgh Penguins looms large. If they thought a series with a rival like the Canadiens was heated, they haven’t seen anything yet.

Oilers get Kronwall’d – in more ways than one

Niklas Kronwall
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When someone gets clobbered by Niklas Kronwall, they get Kronwall’d.

(His detractors may insist that the definition require the words “dirty” or “illegal,” but that’s a debate for another day.)

It’s easy to get lost in those thunderous hits and forget that the  Swedish defenseman also brings some skill to the table.

He made a big impact – literally and figuratively – in Detroit’s 4-3 overtime win against the Edmonton Oilers on Friday.

First, the Kronwalling:

Next, Kronwall’s overtime-winner:

It hasn’t always been pretty, but the Red Wings are leaning on guys like Kronwall and Dylan Larkin to stick with it.

Tonight’s win extends their point streak to six games (4-0-2), with five of those contests going to overtime.

Dubinsky – Crosby’s nemesis – gets the last laugh on Friday

Sidney Crosby, Brandon Dubinsky

Brandon Dubinsky isn’t a household name like Sidney Crosby is, yet for all the hype that Crosby vs. Alex Ovechkin gets, Dubinsky is the sort of guy who truly rankles No. 87.

It’s been getting that spotlight since the Columbus Blue Jackets faced off against the Pittsburgh Penguins in a brisk playoff series, though it wouldn’t be surprising if the bad blood stemmed to Dubinsky’s days with New York.

To some, Dubinsky’s cross-check on Crosby will resonate far more than the end result of this game:

The bottom line is that he’ll get the last laugh, at least for now. (In-game, that moment merely drew a minor penalty.)

That’s because Dubinsky set up the overtime game-winner, and the cherry on the top of that spite sundae came with Crosby being on the ice when it happened:

They’re not just rubbing the Penguins the wrong way.

Even Dubinsky kind of sort of admits that he may have been in the wrong.


More and more, the Blue Jackets are looking like a nuisance … possibly one that will grind their way to an unlikely playoff berth. They improved to 8-4-0 in November after a disastrous 2-10-0 October.

In other words, there’s at least a chance that we may see these increasingly bitter rivals butt heads in another playoff series.

Eichel’s sweet snipe helps Sabres snap six-game skid

Jack Eichel
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The Buffalo Sabres probably deserved better during at least some chunks of their six-game skid, yet Jack Eichel swooped in on Friday to remind fans that there’s a light shining at the end of the tunnel.

You can watch his goal from tonight’s eventual 4-1 win against the Carolina Hurricanes in the video above.

That’s not necessarily the absolute height of his on-ice magic, yet it clearly gave his team a lift:

Call this a healthy reminder that Eichel has the ability to change games, something Buffalo fans hope to get used to.

Report: Likely no suspension for Matt Beleskey’s hit on Derek Stepan


Alain Vigneault went there in comparing Matt Beleskey‘s hit on Derek Stepan to the notorious check Aaron Rome delivered on Nathan Horton many moons ago, but the league seems to disagree.

While Rome sat through that memorable Stanley Cup Final between Boston and Vancouver, it sounds like Beleskey won’t face any further discipline, according to ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun.

In the unlikely event that anything changes, PHT will make note.

The next game between the Rangers and Bruins takes place at Madison Square Garden on Jan. 11. Will these bad feelings linger?