NEW YORK – The Ottawa Senators did two things in Game 6 that helped them close out the New York Rangers and advance to the Eastern Conference Final.
The first was that they won at Madison Square Garden, a place where they dropped Games 3 and 4 in this series last week, allowing the Rangers to even things up.
The second was that they finally got off to a good start on the road in the series. New York came out strong and controlled play right off the bat in those two previous games at MSG. Tuesday night it was the Senators coming out strong, and that helped lead to the game’s opening goal by Mike Hoffman.
“You know with home ice they’re going to come hard,” said Senators forward Mark Stone, who doubled Ottawa’s lead 13 minutes after Hoffman’s goal. “I think in this game we didn’t sit back. We went forward as much as we could. Obviously there were times in the first when we were in our end, but we really salvaged it really well and we got some really big saves from our goalie. When we got up 1-0 there, we got a four-minute kill, which was huge. We got a couple big saves and there’s no rebounds from Craig [Anderson] tonight, and that really gave us a chance to make clears.”
Anderson was solid, stopping 37 of 39 shots he faced, and captain Erik Karlsson showed why he’s such an elite player in this league. When the Rangers cut the Ottawa lead to 2-1 late in the second period, Karlsson answered 2:21 later on a play that he helped create with a rush starting from his own zone.
The Senators learned a lesson against the Boston Bruins in Round 1. Up 3-1 in the series, they failed to deliver a knock out blow in Game 5, giving the Bruins life after a double overtime loss. They didn’t want to give New York any second chances with a Game 7.
“Any time you can get it done, obviously you want to do that. It’s so hard to get the fourth game,” said Clarke MacArthur. “Any of the series you get in that position, you think you got it in the bag and it’s just never there. You see the Pittsburgh series now, there’s gotta be some doubt in their mind now. It happens every year to teams. It’s so hard to close that last game out. The other team’s desperate. You’re trying to get through it and bad things can happen. I’m really glad we were able to wrap it up tonight.”
Now the Senators will get a couple of days off to rest up and prepare for either the Pittsburgh Penguins or Washington Capitals in the conference final. Ottawa has silenced doubters all season long, and while they can feel proud about this accomplishment, they know there’s plenty of work left to be done.
“We’re going to celebrate this, enjoy this for a little bit here,” Karlsson said. “We’re far from done. We want to go as far as we possibly can. We know we have to be a little bit better.”
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