Senators secure home ice advantage in first round

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It turns out the Ottawa Senators didn’t really need Erik Karlsson to take care of business this weekend.

Thanks to their 3-1 win over the New York Rangers on Saturday afternoon, the Senators secured the No. 2 spot in the Atlantic Division and will begin the Stanley Cup Playoffs on home ice and have home ice advantage throughout the first round.

The only thing left to determine now is their opponent.

As things sit on Saturday, the Boston Bruins would be their first-round opponent, and should the Bruins defeat the Washington Capitals on Saturday afternoon that will lock in that matchup for the opening round. But if the Bruins lose to Washington, and the Toronto Maple Leafs are able to collect three out of four points this weekend against Pittsburgh and Columbus, that would move Toronto into the No. 3 spot and set up a Battle of Ontario series in the first round.

No matter who they end up playing, getting home ice in the first round is a massive step for a team that completely missed the playoffs a year ago.

On Saturday the Senators received goals from Mike Hoffman, Jean-Gabriel Pageu, and former Ranger Derrik Brassard to pick up the win against a Rangers team that was clearly in preservation mode for the start of the playoffs. The Rangers had several key players out of the lineup and the Senators were more than happy to take advantage of the opportunity in front of them, owning a 33-19 edge on the shot chart and pretty much carrying the game.

Craig Anderson stopped 18 of the 19 shots he faced, missing a shutout by just 46 seconds thanks to a late goal from former Senator Mika Zibanejad.

The Senators wrap up the regular season on Sunday in Brooklyn against the New York Islanders.