Curtis Lazar

Lightning nab Condra for three years

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Erik Condra is off to Tampa Bay. The Lightning have signed the 28-year-old forward to a three-year deal with a cap hit of $1.25 million, according to Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston.

Condra had nine goals and 14 assists for the Senators in 2014-15, skating mostly with young Curtis Lazar and Jean-Gabriel Pageau. He was originally drafted in the seventh round by Ottawa in 2006.

No Sens forward averaged more time on the penalty kill (2:13) than Condra.

Neil out, Chiasson in as Sens look to stave off elimination again

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Out with the old, in with the new.

That’s the strategy Ottawa will employ this evening as it looks to win its second consecutive game against Montreal and keep the series (currently 3-1 in favor of the Habs) alive — veteran Chris Neil, who played in Games 3 and 4, will be dropped from the lineup in favor of Alex Chiasson, who hasn’t played since Game 2.

Neil, 35, was a non-factor in each of the last two outings, and only played 6:06 in Game 4.

Chiasson, 24, fits with the youth movement that head coach Dave Cameron implemented upon taking the gig from Paul MacLean, and continues to push today; only two Senators in the lineup tonight are over the age of 30 (winger Milan Michalek and goalie Craig Anderson).

Meanwhile, the likes of Curtis Lazar (19 years old), Cody Ceci (21), Mika Zibanejad (21), Jean-Gabriel Pageau (22) and Calder nominee Mark Stone (22) continue to see significant minutes.

PHT Morning Skate: Sens’ rookie Curtis Lazar makes a get-well card for Chris Phillips

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PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

Ottawa Senators rookie Curtis Lazar has been living with veteran defenseman Chris Phillips this season. With Phillips undergoing season-ending back surgery on Tuesday, Lazar sketched a get well soon message for his landlord.

Editor’s Note: Play one-day fantasy hockey tonight! Pro Hockey Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a $25,000 league for Wednesday’s NHL games. It’s just $2 to join and first place wins $2,000. Starts tonight at 7:00pm ET. Play Now!

Here’s another look at the highlights from Tuesday night’s triple overtime game between the Nashville Predators and Chicago Blackhawks, which went into the early hours of Wednesday before Brent Seabrook scored the winner.

With the Edmonton winning the NHL Draft Lottery and likely selecting Connor McDavid in June, hockey insider Darren Dreger says Oilers GM Craig MacTavish will be busy this summer doing some “big game hunting” in an effort to address some of his team’s needs. (TSN)

Dustin Byfuglien was on the ice for three of the Anaheim goals in Game 3 and took an undisciplined penalty for his blow to Corey Perry following the Ducks 2-1 goal in the second period. The 30-year-old has been held off the score sheet while registering a minus-3 rating and four penalty minutes through the first three games of the series. All this is has led Matt Larkin over at The Hockey News to write that Byfuglien is hurting his team. (THN)

TSN Radio1200’s Matt Kaunisviita produced a Bob Dylan parody song to “Like A Rolling Stone” titled, “And The Rookie Stone…” referencing Sens’ rookie Mark Stone. (TSN 1200)

Three reasons for Ottawa’s improbable playoff berth

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The Ottawa Senators capped off their Cinderella story on Saturday, defeating the Philadelphia Flyers 3-1 to clinch a spot in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

It’s a fairytale, to say the least.

Seven weeks ago, the idea of Ottawa playing past Apr. 11 was pure fantasy. The Sens were 10 points out of a playoff spot on Feb. 17, but then proceeded to go 21-3-3 — not a typo — to surge into the postseason.

So, how did they get it done?

1: The Hamburglar

The biggest and most obvious reason is the play of Andrew Hammond, the 27-year-old undrafted goalie that took the starting reins in mid-February and proceeded to go on the run of a lifetime. Saturday’s win in Philly pushed Hammond to a remarkable 20-1-2 on the year — yes, just one regulation loss — with a 1.79 GAA and .941 save percentage.

Oh, and three shutouts.

“It’s unbelievable,” Ottawa center Kyle Turris said, per Yahoo. “I’ve never seen a guy come in and make an impact like that and change the season around.”

2: The coaching switch

Remember, this wasn’t a popular move at the time. The Senators took plenty of heat for turfing head coach Paul MacLean on Dec. 8; though they appeared listless at times — and had just an 11-11-5 record — MacLean was held in high regard and just two years removed from winning the Jack Adams as NHL coach of the year.

But the switch to Dave Cameron paid dividends.

Sens GM Bryan Murray described Cameron as “a teacher,” and projected he’d mesh well with a young Senators team that MacLean often chided. The overall sense was Cameron would better relate to young players, whereas MacLean’s tell-it-like-it-is style — though entertaining — started to wear on the group.

“I thought when [MacLean] came here he was a guy that related very well to the players,” Murray explained. “He had been a player himself. He understood what it took to play in the NHL. But it seemed that kind of drifted. Maybe it’s the pressure of the business here. Maybe you guys are too tough on our people.

“But very definitely he became more demanding of some of the players, and more critical of some of the players.”

Cameron took over with 55 games left in the regular season. Since then, the Sens have gone 32-15-8.

3: The kids

This one’s in lockstep with No.2. Whereas MacLean was nervous about his roster — “I’m just scared to death every day of who we’re playing,” he infamously uttered just prior to his firing — Cameron embraced Ottawa’s youth and gave the kids bigger roles.

The biggest beneficiary? Mark Stone.

Stone, Ottawa’s rookie forward, has blossomed under Cameron — he scored 35 points over Ottawa’s last 31 games of the year and pushed himself into a Calder Trophy conversation that, for most of the season, had been comprised of Johnny Gaudreau, Aaron Ekblad and Filip Forsberg.

As the season went along, Stone became a vital part of this team. He got decent minutes from MacLean, but nothing like what he’s received from Cameron; Stone had at least 20 minutes in four straight games from Mar. 31 to Apr. 7, and seemed to thrive with the increased workload — in Saturday’s win over Philly, he scored the opening marker and insurance tally for his 25th and 26th goals of the year.

“Stone has definitely developed into a solid player,” Sens captain Erik Karlsson said, per the Sun. “He just keeps raising the bar for himself and that’s what you want from a player to keep challenging yourself.

“I really think he has done that and we can’t really ask him to do much more than he has.”

To be fair, the Sens relied on more youngsters than just Stone. Fellow rookie Mike Hoffman has been great while the likes of Curtis Lazar (19 years old) Mika Zibanejad (21), Cody Ceci (21) and Jean-Gabriel Pageau (22) all found increased roles under Cameron, and responded well.

Also — in the interest of fairness — credit has to go to Ottawa’s scouting department. While Ceci, Lazar and Zibanejad were first-rounders, the likes of Stone (178th overall in 2010), Hoffman (130th overall in 2009) and Pageau (96th overall in 2011) were all late-round finds.

Leafs deliver blow to Sens’ playoff hopes

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Eric Brewer scored the overtime winner as the Toronto Maple Leafs erased a 3-1 deficit to edge the Ottawa Senators 4-3 Saturday night.

Tyler Bozak netted his first career hat trick and added an assist while line mates Phil Kessel and James van Riemsdyk each had three assists in the win.

An Ottawa win would’ve vaulted the Sens back into the playoff picture. With the loss, the Senators remain a point back of the Boston Bruins for the second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference. Ottawa has one game in hand on Boston.

The win snaps a seven-game losing streak for the Leafs. Toronto has won just six times in their last 34 games.

Mark Stone and Curtis Lazar gave Ottawa a 2-0 lead after 20 minutes.

Kyle Turris made it 3-1 midway through the second period.

Craig Anderson, who was making his first start since March 10, made 27 saves in the loss.

James Reimer stopped 22 shots in the win.