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Senators advance to Eastern Conference final

Senators advance to Eastern Conference final

Posted by PanamericanWorld on May 10, 2017

The Ottawa Senators pulled off their own Miracle on 34th Street on Tuesday night.

The Senators have done the unthinkable by sending the New York Rangers packing from the NHL playoffs, finishing the job with a dramatic 4-2 victory in Game 6 at Madison Square Garden. By taking the series in six games, Ottawa advanced to the Eastern Conference final for the first time since 2007.

Nobody expected the Senators to be one of the NHL’s Final Four, but they booked their ticket behind a standout two-point effort from captain Erik Karlsson and strong goaltending when needed from Craig Anderson, who turned in his best performance of the series against the Rangers. Mark Stone and Mike Hoffman also beat New York goalie Henrik Lundqvist.

Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider scored for the Rangers, who made a massive push in the third period to keep their season alive before Jean-Gabriel Pageau salted it away into an empty net. The two teams then shook hands after Ottawa qualified for its third conference final in franchise history.

“It feels great,” said Pageau with a smile. “It was a great team effort. It shows that we needed everyone. (Anderson) played outstanding the whole series and everyone did their job.

The Senators returned to Ottawa immediately after the game to await the winner of Wednesday night’s Game 7 between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals at the Verizon Center. The Senators are will start the conference final on the road, with the first two games likely to go Saturday and Monday.

It’s expected Game 3 will be played on Wednesday at the Canadian Tire Centre, with the possibility of a two-day break before Game 4 next Saturday, but the schedule hasn’t been finalized. This will give the Senators a couple of days to savour the victory over the Rangers and to prepare for their most difficult opponent of these playoffs.

The Rangers came out flying in the third and gave everything they had to stay alive. They made life difficult for the Senators by sending a message early.

Only 53 seconds into the third, with the Senators holding a 3-1 lead, Kreider broke in alone to move the Rangers back to within a goal.

“I didn’t really change anything. It’s just one of those nights where we were better collectively as a group,” said Anderson. “It’s a credit to our guys by buckling down to get the job done.”

Through 40 minutes, the Senators were giving themselves a chance and were ahead 3-1 despite being outshot 24-21.

Only moments after Zibanejad brought the crowd to life with his second of the playoffs to pull the Rangers to within a goal, Karlsson took a pass from Bobby Ryan and fired it past Lundqvist at 15:52 to restore a two-goal lead for the Senators. Zibanejad had scored at 13:32 to get the Rangers on the board.

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