History is on the Ottawa Senators side as they look to close out their first-round series against the Montreal Canadiens Thursday.
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The Senators franchise is 6-1 all-time, including six straight wins, in Game 5 when leading the series 3-1. That includes three series wins during the team's 2007 Stanley Cup run.
Despite the history, winning the series-clinching game is always considered the toughest and for Ottawa, they will have to improve their play from Game 4.
The Senators went down 2-0 early in the second period after goals one minute apart from the Canadiens' P.K. Subban and Alex Galchenyuk. The Sens' coach, Paul MacLean, and his players admitted Tuesday night they were fairly lackluster until the third period.
"The game is a full 60 minutes and sometimes longer. There's going to be times in the game where you don't have momentum, maybe when you have a couple bad shifts," said Senators' goalie Craig Anderson after the 3-2 overtime win Tuesday.
"But you got to find a way to stay in the game."
Ottawa did, scoring once just past the halfway mark of the third, then tying the game with just 23 seconds left in regulation before Kyle Turris scored the overtime winner.
Defenceman Eric Gryba said Wednesday the Senators allowed the Habs to play their own game, but once Ottawa took control of the game, the bounces turned in their favour.
Sens' Game 5 success
That win in Game 4 was the Senators' sixth win in their last seven playoff overtime games. They have also won the last six series in Game 5 after going up 3-1:
- 2001-02 first round, beat Philadelphia Flyers.
- 2002-03 first round, beat New York Islanders.
- 2005-06 first round, beat Tampa Bay Lightning.
- 2006-07 first round, beat Pittsburgh Penguins.
- 2006-07 second round, beat New Jersey Devils.
- 2006-07 third round, beat Buffalo Sabres.
That win over the Sabres was the last time the Senators won a playoff series, losing the four series since.
Also, only Chris Phillips, Chris Neil and captain Daniel Alfredsson remain from the 2006-07 Senators squad.
Rookies making a difference
The team is much younger, too. Multiple rookies have stepped up for the Senators, and the Canadiens, in this first-round series.
In fact, rookies scored three of the five goals in Game 4. Galchenyuk, Mika Zibanejad and Cory Conacher each scored their first career NHL playoff goals.
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Senators' centre Jean-Gabriel Pageau also scored a hat trick in Ottawa's Game 3 win, while Canadiens' rookie Brendan Gallagher scored the game-winning goal for Montreal in Game 2.
Besides Craig Anderson's stellar play, including a .945 save percentage, other rookies like Jakob Silfverberg and Eric Gryba have been a factor as the Senators take a stranglehold of their series.
Gionta has season-ending surgery
The Canadiens, meanwhile, return on the brink of elimination with major injury concerns.
Carey Price and Brandon Prust were injured late in Game 4 and Price did not play in the overtime period. Price is listed as day-to-day while Prust will not play Thursday.
The Habs also announced Wednesday their captain, Brian Gionta, would miss the rest of the season after having surgery to repair a torn left bicep muscle. Lars Eller and Ryan White will also miss Game 5 due to injury.
Game 5 is Thursday at 7 p.m. ET on Hockey Night in Canada (CBC, CBCSports.ca).