The Ottawa Senators overcame a ghastly number of injuries to key players during the regular season to make the playoffs as the seventh seed, and have now managed to prevail over the second-seeded Montreal Canadiens to move on to the second round. The Senators advanced after a 6-1 victory in Game 5 on Thursday night.
The game started off right for the Senators, with two early goals giving them a lead that they never surrendered. The Canadiens would get one late in the first period, but that was the end of Montreal's offense for the night. The third period was all Ottawa.
The Senators took a commanding 4-1 lead 6:22 into the final period with this power-play goal from Daniel Alfredsson:
That goal seemed to suck the life completely out of the Canadiens, and they didn't have much sustained pressure for the remainder of the game. The Senators would get another couple of ugly goals late, but by then it didn't much matter:
The game would end in a 6-1 victory for the Senators. They won the series 4-1.
As the seventh seed in the East, the Senators will play the top-seeded Penguins in the next round if Pittsburgh can defeat the Islanders. They could conceivably face any of the other Eastern teams except for the Washington Capitals, depending on how the other series turn out.
Here's how some key questions going into the game panned out:
Will Peter Budaj make a difference?
Budaj was a huge factor in this game, but not in a positive way. From the two goals he gave up in the first all the way through to the fourth, fifth, and sixth goals of the game, Budaj just didn't get it done for Montreal.
Is Brian Gionta the more critical loss for Montreal?
It's hard to say it was a more critical loss than Price, but Gionta's leadership certainly couldn't have hurt.
Are the Senators about to take the next step?
They certainly made a strong statement with this first-round victory. They got the goals when they needed them in this series, and if that good fortune can continue along with the strong play from Craig Anderson, the Senators will continue to be hard to beat.