The Ottawa Senators fought valiantly and had an implausible season at times, but it was down to Carey Price and the Montreal Canadiens. The Habs took the series with a Game Six victory on Sunday, putting an end to the Senators’ playoff hopes with a 2-0 victory.
Price made 43 saves in the series-clinching win, capping a brilliant first round that saw him put up a 1.94 goals against average and a .939 save percentage. He allowed just a dozen goals on 198 series shots. The Senators were sizzling at times, but Price was just that much better as he held the fort and made scintillating saves. Even after he coughed up five goals in Game Five, he came back in Game Six to own the opposition.
“You could just see him before the game, the look he had, the focus that he had, he was going to put in a good performance,” said Habs winger Brendan Gallagher. “43 saves. That’s pretty impressive, road building in an elimination game. You come to expect it, but you can’t take it for granted. It’s pretty impressive what he did.”
Now the Canadiens will face either the Detroit Red Wings or Tampa Bay Lightning and the Senators will have a lot to think about. They capped an improbable run with a playoff berth and gave the Habs a lot to handle.
Back in February, the Sens were 14 points out of a playoff spot. They rallied for a 23-4-4 stretch and obtained the first wild card spot in the Eastern Conference. And in their series against the Habs, they trailed 3-0 before winning Games Four and Five to march back in it.
But where the Canadiens were able to get great goaltending, the Senators stumbled. Despite Andrew Hammond’s stellar play down the stretch, Ottawa turned to Craig Anderson more often than not. Anderson played in four games and picked up the Senators’ two wins, posting a 0.97 goals against average and a .972 save percentage in the process. Hammond lost two games and laid out a disappointing 3.44 goals against average.
Anderson was largely forgotten in Ottawa thanks to Hammond’s job in goal, but he had always put up solid numbers and had a 20-1-2 record for the regular season. He had 14 straight starts without a regulation loss, but his right hand had a deep bone bruise and he could barely grip his stick. But Anderson had his chance to come back in the playoffs and he certainly did, as his numbers attest. It was a heroic performance, one that found him stopping 73 of 74 shots in Games Four and Five.
In the end, as the story often goes, the Habs were just that much better. P.K. Subban looked like a superstar, putting up four points for the team lead. Tomas Plekanec, Torrey Mitchell and Brian Flynn had three points and Max Pacioretty scored two goals in the series.
Erik Karlsson, Patrick Wiercioch, Mark Stone, and Mika Zibanejad all had four points for the Senators, while Clarke MacArthur and Bobby Ryan joined Wiercioch with two goals apiece.
The story for the series was told between the pipes and that seems like how things are going to stay for the Canadiens as they await their next opponents. As for the Senators, they have a lot to be proud of. That’s little consolation now, but they had a tremendous drive down the stretch and made every moment count. The better team won, but it was a heck of a ride all the same.