Senators clinch playoff berth by routing Isles 5-1
Sunday, 04.01.2012 / 5:52 PM
Add the Ottawa Senators
onto the list of teams that have clinched a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
The Senators became the sixth Eastern Conference team to assure itself of a trip to the postseason by routing the New York Islanders
5-1 at the Nassau Coliseum on Sunday.
Midseason acquisition Kyle Turris
scored Ottawa's first and last goals and added two assists as the Senators rolled despite the absence of top-line forwards Daniel Alfredsson
(illness) and Jason Spezza
(birth of child). Craig Anderson
stopped 29 of 30 shots for his fourth straight win.
"We knew we were missing two key guys but we played a very solid and focused team game," said Senators coach Paul MacLean, who reached the postseason in his first season as a bench boss. "The leadership on our team did a tremendous job all season to pull us up by our bootstraps and create a winning foundation."
No one was happier than Turris, whose arrival from Phoenix at midseason has given the Senators more depth down the middle. He stepped into Spezza's spot and meshed perfectly with Milan Michalek
, who had a goal and two assists.
"What a great feeling this is, to know we are in the playoffs," said the 22-year-old Turris, the third player taken in the 2007 NHL Draft. "It was fun skating on a line with Milan tonight and doing so well. Definitely, this is a satisfying night for me."
Ottawa is seventh in the East with 92 points, four behind sixth-place New Jersey and four in front of eighth-place Washington. The Senators have won four in a row and are back in the playoffs after finishing 13th in the East.
The Islanders, who were officially eliminated from the playoff race on Saturday, fell to 14th in the East with 77 points. They have not made the playoffs since 2007.
"There was no urgency in our game tonight," Islanders coach Jack Capuano said.
The Islanders actually scored first when John Tavares
' passout hit Mark Streit
and went into the net at 7:55 of the opening period. Turris, acquired from Phoenix earlier in the season, tied it at 16:40 when he deked his way around goaltender Al Montoya
and wristed the puck into the wide-open net.
Michalek set up Sergei Gonchar
's go-ahead power-play goal 3:09 into the second, then scored his career-high 35th when he beat Montoya at the six-minute mark with a backhander that went into the net off Isles center Marty Reasoner
"Tonight was another example of how well we can play as a team," said Michalek, who hadn't scored more than 26 goals in a season before this season. "We gave up the first goal but came back and took control of the game."
made it 4-1 at 13:21 when he poked in a rebound, and Turris' power-play goal seven minutes into the third period wrapped up the scoring.
The Senators missed the playoffs last season and haven't advanced past the first round since they reached the 2007 Stanley Cup Final, losing to Anaheim in five games.
"We're going in the right direction, coming together at the right time and playing hard as a team," said defenseman Chris Phillips
, who made his debut with the Senators in 1997. "We had a lot to prove this year and we've done well with that so far. Now we look to the playoffs."
Material from team media and wire services was used in this report