The Ottawa Senators couldn’t get past the Montreal Canadiens in the first round, but the fact that they got that far was a tremendous accomplishment that required a 21-3-3 run. That they then battled back from a 3-0 series deficit to force a Game 6 against one of the league’s toughest teams is the icing on the cake.
So although the Senators’ campaign ended tonight, there’s cause for them to exit with their heads held high.
“I’m extremely proud of this group,” Senators coach Dave Cameron said, according to the Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch.
“We made some steps. This is a tough business, tough league, we’ll get over it ending … and feel good about what we accomplished,” he added.
The Senators certainly have reasons to be optimistic about the future. They had two of the top four scoring rookies this season in Mark Stone and Mike Hoffman. Mika Zibanejad, 22, took a step forward this season as well while defenseman Erik Karlsson and forward Kyle Turris are arguably just now entering their prime.
They certainly have some question marks going forward, especially with Zibanejad, Stone, and Hoffman all set to become restricted free agents and goalie Andrew Hammond eligible for unrestricted free agency. It also remains to be seen if they’ll be willing to spend to the cap going forward, which is potentially vital to both keep their core together in the long-term and build around it.
Still, the fact remains that they can take a lot of positives out of this campaign.
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.
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.
Click here for playoff highlight videos
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.
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.