Erik Karlsson

Price makes 43 saves as Senators’ magical run ends in controversy

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It took the Montreal Canadiens three tries, but in Game 6 Montreal was able to secure a 2-0 victory over Ottawa. And with that the Ottawa Senators’ incredible run that included a 21-3-3 regular season finish has come to an end.

The finale certainly wasn’t devoid of controversy. The most notable issue was the quick whistle cost the Senators a game-tying goal. At the same time, Canadiens goaltender Carey Price deserves a lot of credit for his efforts.

Price made 43 saves tonight and was challenged by the Senators multiple times in the dying minutes of the contest. He stood tall throughout it and once again showed why he’s worthy of consideration for the Hart Trophy.

It would also be simplistic to suggest that Ottawa’s elimination is solely the result of a bad call. The Senators fell behind in this series 3-0 and in doing so, conceded any breathing room that they had. They fought hard to challenge Montreal, but when you’ve been reduced to competing for a reverse sweep against a great team, nearly everything has to go your way.

The Senators are a young squad that showed a lot of character in both their late season push and their fight over the final three playoff contests. With Erik Karlsson, Mark Stone, Kyle Turris, Mike Hoffman, and Mika Zibanejad leading the way, Ottawa has a potentially bright future. The present belongs to Montreal though and with Price between the pipes, it will be a tough adversary for the winner of Tampa Bay vs. Detroit.

Sens’ Anderson continues to haunt Habs, forces Game 6

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When the Ottawa Senators defeated the Montreal Canadiens in five games back in the 2013 playoffs, goaltender Craig Anderson played a big role. Could he top that in their current first round series?

He’s certainly giving Montreal a reason to be concerned as he turned aside 45 of 46 shots in Ottawa’s 5-1 victory Friday night. This is the second straight time that Anderson has thwarted the Canadiens’ attempt to advance as he also earned a 28-save shutout in Game 4.

Anderson first came into the series for Game 3 and nearly kept the Senators from falling behind 3-0 in the series by kicking out 47 of 49 shots in that contest.

If there was one big difference between this contest and Anderson’s previous efforts though, it’s that Ottawa was able to provide him with plenty of support. Bobby Ryan ended his 16-game goal scoring slump while captain Erik Karlsson and forward Erik Condra each found the back of the net for the first time in this series. However, it was 24-year-old Patrick Wiercioch that netted what proved to be the game winner:

The one major setback for Ottawa was that Clarke MacArthur sustained a lower-body injury and didn’t play in the third period as a result.

That obviously hurts the Senators, but they now have the momentum and the series is heading back to Ottawa. Montreal won’t have much time to regroup as Game 6 is set for 6:00 p.m. ET on Sunday.

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After Karlsson hit, Habs rule out Beaulieu for rest of Round 1

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The Montreal Canadiens are rolling at the moment with a commanding 3-0 series lead against Ottawa, but announced some bad news on Tuesday, ruling out d-man Nathan Beaulieu for the rest of the opening round.

Beaulieu, 22, was hurt on this hit from Sens captain Erik Karlsson in Game 3:

Beaulieu remained in the contest but didn’t play in the third period or overtime.

The loss will sting Montreal a bit — Beaulieu played 15:34 and 12:47 in the first two games of the series — but the club is well equipped to deal with losing a defenseman. Sergei Gonchar, Greg Pateryn and Mike Weaver all sat out Game 3, and it looks as though Pateryn will draw in for tomorrow’s potential close-out contest.

Video: Karlsson levels Beaulieu in big night for Senators captain

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Erik Karlsson recorded an assist on the Ottawa Senators’ opening goal, but the offensive defenseman has also been a big factor without the puck. He’s been throwing his body around all game, including his big open ice hit on Montreal Canadiens blueliner Nathan Beaulieu, which you can see below:

The Senators captain has been credited with six hits through 40 minutes of play. That’s more than he had in any regular season contest in 2014-15. He’s not alone in playing a physical game though as Ottawa has recorded 46 so far, including nine from Chris Neil.

Down 2-0 in the series, Ottawa has a 1-0 lead going into the third period of Game 3.

Update: Although Beaulieu initially stayed in the game, he didn’t take a single shift in the third period.

PHT’s awards picks for 2014-15

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Just a brief awards post on this busy day. Halford and I each gave our top picks. Feel free to add your two bits in the comments section.

Hart Trophy

Brough: Carey Price. Nobody was more important to their team than this guy. If not for Price, the Habs may not have made the playoffs. I did strongly consider Alex Ovechkin, given he had 10 more goals than anyone else. If Caps fans are mad at me for choosing otherwise, perhaps they can take solace in the fact I didn’t really consider Sidney Crosby at all.

Halford: Carey Price. I also strongly considered Ovechkin, who was the only skater to break the 50-goal mark. But Price was the only goalie with a GAA under 2.00 and save percentage over .930, and on a Montreal team that finished 20th in offense (2.61 goals per game), Price was the more valuable player.

Norris Trophy

Brough: Erik Karlsson. I don’t apologize for picking the defenseman with the most points. It’s not the only factor I considered (obviously), but the ability to move the puck and create offense from the back end is vitally important, and nobody does it better than Karlsson.

Halford: Drew Doughty. No d-man logged more total ice time this season. Not even Ryan Suter. The Kings may have missed the playoffs, but it wasn’t because of Doughty. He’s the best two-way defenseman in the world.

Calder Trophy

Brough: Aaron Ekblad. It was extremely hard not to pick Johnny Gaudreau or Mark Stone, but considering Ekblad’s rookie season, compared to the ones by other 18-year-old defensemen throughout the years, was in line with Bobby Orr’s, I’m not going to lose any sleep over my decision.

Halford: Mark Stone. This was the toughest pick by far but, in the end, I couldn’t ignore how well he played over the final half of the year, especially when the Sens went on their tear. Only Ovechkin, Crosby, Jamie Benn and John Tavares scored more points than Stone (44) after Jan. 1.

Jack Adams Award

Brough: Barry Trotz. Did a masterful job convincing the Capitals to buy in and play with more structure. Also handled Ovechkin perfectly, providing constructive criticism while also publicly praising and bonding with his captain and face of the franchise.

Halford: Bob Hartley. The Flames went from 77 to 97 points, snapped a six-year playoff drought and did it with their captain and best player, Mark Giordano, missing the final 21 games of the regular season. Yeah, there was some puck luck and good fortune involved, but Hartley did a remarkable job getting this team to overachieve.

Selke Trophy

Brough: Patrice Bergeron. A tough season for Bruins fans, but having this guy under contract through 2021-22 is a good way to feel better.

Halford: Patrice Bergeron. I considered some extremely talented guys — Jonathan Toews, Anze Kopitar, Pavel Datsyuk — for the Selke, but never thought about giving the first-place vote to anybody but Bergeron. Kinda says it all.

Vezina Trophy

Brough. Carey Price. Played the fourth-most minutes among all NHL goalies and nobody had a lower save percentage than his .933 mark. Ultimately, this wasn’t a tough decision, despite some excellent seasons from a handful of other goalies.

Halford: Carey Price. He’s going to win in his first year as a finalist, an interesting factoid in that it reminds you Carey Price has never been a Vezina finalist before, let alone won one.

Lady Byng Trophy

Brough: Sean Monahan. Took just six minor penalties all season, to go with 31 goals. There were actually a few candidates for this award on the ultra-disciplined Flames.

Halford: Jiri Hudler. It’s a Calgary love-in! Hudler took one more minor penalty than Monahan did this year, but also finished with the team scoring lead (76 point). That gets him the nod in my book.