NHL PLAYOFFS: Ottawa eliminates Montrea; in 5 games
MONTREAL -- Craig Anderson made 33 saves and Cory Conacher scored twice on a shaky Peter Budaj as the Ottawa Senators advanced to the second round of the playoffs Thursday night with a 6-1 rout of the Montreal Canadiens.
Ottawa took the best-of-seven series 4-1 and put a punctuation mark on its dominance in moving on for the first time since 2007, when the Senators lost in the Stanley Cup finals to the Anaheim Ducks.
The victory gives Ottawa time to rest up and heal bruises from the physical series before the conference semifinals begin next week.
Zack Smith, Kyle Turris, Daniel Alfredsson and Erik Condra also scored for Ottawa, underdogs as the seventh seed in the East, but bolstered down the stretch by the return of top players on defense Erik Karlsson and Jared Cowan.
P.K. Subban scored for injury-struck Montreal, which failed to solve Anderson. The Canadiens scored only nine goals in the series, while their own spotty goaltending allowed 20.
Budaj made 23 saves in place of the injured Carey Price.
Desperate to stay alive, Montreal came out quickly and Anderson robbed Rene Bourque with the glove on a one-timer in the opening moments.
At the other end, Budaj was on the hot seat and the nerves showed early as the Senators scored on their third shot. A generous rebound was left in front for Smith to backhand into an open net only 2:17 in.
Another puck slipped behind Budaj off a post and Conacher was there to tap it in 10 minutes later.
Montreal got one back on its first power play with 15 seconds to go in the period. Subban sent a low point shot to the far corner.
The Bell Centre crowd booed as Turris gave Ottawa a 3-1 lead with a short-handed score midway in the second period. The Senators center was pushed into Budaj by Tomas Plekanec and was on his hands and knees in the crease when Condra's shot went in off Turris' arm. The goal was confirmed by video review.
It was eerily quiet at the 21,273-seat rink as the Senators scored on three straight power-play chances. Alfredsson wristed a shot in, Conacher beat Budaj from the left side, and Condra poked in a loose puck in the crease at 16:12.
Montreal's season was over.
The Canadiens had five players injured in the series, including Price and forwards Brian Gionta, Lars Eller, Brandon Prust and Ryan White.
NOTES: Montreal finished last in the conference last season and rose to second in the lockout-shortened 2013 campaign. But it went into a funk late in the regular season and never recovered. ... Michael Blunden made his playoff debut for Montreal, while Budaj got his first career postseason start. ... Robert Mayer backed up Budaj ... Ottawa had no line-up changes from Game 4.
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