MONTREAL - The Ottawa Senators shook off their playoff demons Thursday night here at the Bell Centre.
It has been six years since the Senators went to the Stanley Cup final and six years since they advanced past the first round. There have been ups. There have been downs. They finally got over the hump and it couldn't have felt better.
The Senators sent the hometown Montreal Canadiens packing with a 6-1 victory in Game 5
to close out the best-of-seven NHL Eastern Conference quarter-final. Ottawa will get a few days off before opening Round 2 next week, and by that time could be the only Canadian team left in the Stanley Cup tournament.
Given the injuries along with the ups and downs, this victory felt pretty good. They truly were the underdogs and for those long-serving Senators it was a nice victory.
"This year it has been about proving people wrong and I've gotta say it feels pretty good," said defenceman Chris Phillips.
"We just beat the Montreal Canadiens. That's huge. I've got to call my mom and tell her we beat her team," said MacLean.
Big night for Andy
Craig Anderson finally has earned his stripes.
The Ottawa Senators goaltender has always had a hard time earning respect because his record in the playoffs has never been great and until the club eliminated the Montreal Canadiens Thursday night he never had a series victory.
The Senators goaltender showed again in Game 5 why he could carry the club a long way this spring. He was brilliant by stopping 33 shots as Ottawa advanced to the second round of the playoffs for the first time since 2007 with a 6-1 victory.
Sure, he got a little help when Rene Bourque and Colby Armstrong hit the posts, but Anderson was full value for this victory. He left the Montreal players wondering what it was going to take to beat them.
Anderson was in the kitchen of Habs' shooters.
"I never worried about it and you guys [the media] didn't really bring it up so it wasn't something I thought about a lot," said Anderson. "It's a tribute to the guys and the job that we did.
"I can't do it alone. I can't score goals. I can't be the guy that wins game for the team. The team has got to win games for each other. That feels good."
Tough end for the Habs
The Canadiens will be able to look back and say they made a step in the right direction, but they didn't feel that way after getting hammered by the Senators in the series finale.
Montreal didn't expect to have an early summer.
In the end, the injuries mounted and the Habs really missed starting goalie Carey Price
because backup Peter Budaj just didn't measure up in the final game against Ottawa.
Coach Michel Therrien told reporters the Canadiens are headed in the right direction and need to keep building.
"The last two weeks we had a lot of bad luck," said Therrien
. "My approach with the team and our approach since day one [has been injuries] are not an excuse. I don't think the players with their attitude used that as an excuse.
"Every game the way they prepared, started and I could tell that wasn't an excuse. We worked hard. [The Senators] capitalized on their chances, let's put it that way."
Therrien had a frosty relationship with MacLean throughout this series. Words were exchanged and Therrien was about the post-game handshake between the two.
"The series is over. Paul MacLean did a good job. I'm not denying that. He's a good coach. He did a good job," said Therrien.
The players took this loss hard.
"It's heartbreaking to see it end so quickly," said Max Pacioretty, who suffered a separated shoulder in Game 1.
Price nursing knee injury
A report before Thursday's game indicated Price has a knee injury and would have been available if the Habs had been able to advance past the Senators.
That Price wasn't available for Game 5 was unfortunate and Budaj looked terrible serving up big rebounds.
The Senators had plenty of confidence against Budaj after scoring five goals against him Jan. 30 in a 5-1 victory at home.
Back to accessibility links