The Ottawa Senators yesterday booked their place in the Eastern Conference final after a deserved 4-2 victory over the New York Rangers in their NHL playoff battle.
Mike Hoffman and Mark Stone fired Ottawa into an early lead at Madison Square Garden in New York as the Canadian visitors got off to a dream start.
Mika Zibanejad pulled a goal back for New York to give the home fans hope, but Erik Karlsson got the Senators’ third in the second period to make it 3-1.
A second New York goal from Chris Kreider in the third period made it 3-2, but Jean-Gabriel Pageau struck late to seal the win for Ottawa, who advance to their first conference final since 2007.
Senators goaltender Craig Anderson made 37 saves between the sticks for his eighth win of the playoffs. Rangers counterpart Henrik Lundqvist made 22 saves.
The win gave the Senators a 4-2 victory in the best-of-seven series.
Senators coach Guy Boucher said his team had been determined to be aggressive after being dominated in their previous two visits to New York in Games 3 and 4.
“We didn’t have two good games here,” Boucher said. “The players reloaded emotionally, mentally and physically for [Game 5], and we wanted to do the same in this game.”
“We wanted to be better than we were both times we played here, and that meant the first period. We wanted to come out 0-0, 1-0 or only one behind and making sure we could build our game after that,” Boucher said. “They managed it extremely well.”
Rangers captain Ryan McDonagh bemoaned his team’s sluggish start.
“We came out slow. It’s as simple as that,” he said. “We were all pretty focused in here, saying the right things, but it’s a difference between saying and doing, and that showed up on the ice.”
The Senators are to face either the Washington Capitals or Pittsburgh Penguins in the conference final.
Washington and Pittsburgh were yesterday scheduled to play a decisive Game 7.
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