Ottawa eliminates Montreal in five games
Craig Anderson made 33 saves and Cory Conacher scored twice on a shaky Peter Budaj as the Ottawa Senators advanced to the second round of the playoffs last night with a 6-1 rout of the Montreal Canadiens.
Ottawa took the best-of-seven series 4-1 and put a punctuation mark on its dominance in moving on for the first time since 2007, when the Senators lost in the Stanley Cup finals to the Anaheim Ducks.
The victory gives Ottawa time to rest up and heal bruises from the physical series before the conference semifinals begin next week.
Zack Smith, Kyle Turris, Daniel Alfredsson and Erik Condra also scored for Ottawa, underdogs as the seventh seed in the East, but bolstered down the stretch by the return of top players on defense Erik Karlsson and Jared Cowan.
P.K. Subban scored for injury-struck Montreal, which failed to solve Anderson. The Canadiens scored only nine goals in the series, while their own spotty goaltending allowed 20.
Budaj made 23 saves in place of the injured Carey Price.
Desperate to stay alive, Montreal came out quickly and Anderson robbed Rene Bourque with the glove on a one-timer in the opening moments.
At the other end, Budaj was on the hot seat and the nerves showed early as the Senators scored on their third shot. A generous rebound was left in front for Smith to backhand into an open net only 2:17 in.
Another puck slipped behind Budaj off a post and Conacher was there to tap it in 10 minutes later.
Montreal got one back on its first power play with 15 seconds to go in the period. Subban sent a low point shot to the far corner.
The Bell Centre crowd booed as Turris gave Ottawa a 3-1 lead with a short-handed score midway in the second period. The Senators center was pushed into Budaj by Tomas Plekanec and was on his hands and knees in the crease when Condra’s shot went in off Turris’s arm. The goal was confirmed by video review.
It was eerily quiet at the 21,273-seat rink as the Senators scored on three straight power-play chances. Alfredsson wristed a shot in, Conacher beat Budaj from the left side, and Condra poked in a loose puck in the crease at 16:12.
The Canadiens had five players injured in the series, including Price and forwards Brian Gionta, Lars Eller, Brandon Prust and Ryan White.
Penguins 4, Islanders 0
Tomas Vokoun stopped 31 shots in his first playoff start in six years and the Penguins took a 3-2 lead in their first-round series.
Sidney Crosby, Tyler Kennedy and Douglas Murray scored during a seven-minute stretch in the second period and Kris Letang added a power-play goal in the third as Pittsburgh moved a step closer to advancing to the second round.
Game 6 is tomorrow in New York.
Evgeni Nabokov made 23 saves for the Islanders, but also gave up breakaway goals to Crosby and Kennedy and botched a lazy wrist shot from Murray that gave the Penguins all the offense they would need.
Vokoun was thrust into the lineup after Pittsburgh coach Dan Bylsma benched Marc-Andre Fleury, who had started 79 straight postseason games but struggled in a 6-4 loss in Game 4. The 36-year-old Vokoun didn’t look intimidated by the stage as the Penguins restored a little order to a wide-open series.