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Canadiens vs Senators

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Canadiens vs Senators - 2013 SCP Conference Quarterfinals

Five reasons Senators advanced to second round

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor LNH.com

All season long, the Ottawa Senators made a habit of doing just enough to win.

That trend continued in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Senators were outplayed for long stretches of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series against the Montreal Canadiens but came away with a quick five-game victory with Thursday's 6-1 clincher.

It was Ottawa's first playoff series victory since 2007, and the Senators did it with a healthy mix of solid veterans and young players forced into bigger roles because of injuries over the course of the regular season.

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Five reasons Canadiens were eliminated from playoffs

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor LNH.com

MONTREAL -- The Montreal Canadiens began the season with no expectations, but ended it with high ones.

Their loss in five games to the Ottawa Senators in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals was a disappointing end to a surprising season, one that saw the Canadiens go from last in the Eastern Conference to first in the Northeast Division.

They did this with minor tweaks to the roster and one very astute trade during the season, when general manager Marc Bergevin sent Erik Cole to the Dallas Stars for Michael Ryder and a third-round pick in the 2013 NHL Draft.

The team built strong chemistry and rode a balanced approach into the Stanley Cup Playoffs as a second seed, so what happened?

Here are five explanations for the Canadiens' early exit from the postseason:

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Spezza skating with Senators' 'black aces'

NHL.com

The Ottawa Sun reported Friday that the Ottawa Senators could have top-line center Jason Spezza back in the lineup at some point in the Eastern Conference Semifinals.

Senators general manager Bryan Murray told an Ottawa radio station Friday that Spezza is skating with the team's "black aces" -- scratched and extra players -- as part of his recovery from back surgery that kept him out for all but five games this season.

"He's skating much harder, competing much better and feeling much stronger," Murray told The Team 1200 AM on Friday. "Skating with the black aces is a more serious involvement for him. He's got to practice a few times with the team before Paul [MacLean, coach] thinks about making a change, but there's light at the end of the tunnel."

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Canadiens take no solace in bounce-back season

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor LNH.com

MONTREAL – No one expected the Montreal Canadiens to be here.

Coming off a last-place finish in the Eastern Conference, simply qualifying for the Stanley Cup Playoffs in a shortened season with a new coach was a challenge few believed the Canadiens would be able to overcome. Not only did they do so, they did in style, winning the Northeast Division and claiming the second seed in the Eastern Conference.

But a five-game loss to the Ottawa Senators in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals overwhelmed all the good that was accomplished this season with the pain of having a surprisingly good season come to a very abrupt end with a 6-1 loss in Game 5 on Thursday night.

"This one hurts more than ones in the past," defenseman Josh Gorges said in a voice barely more audible than a whisper. "For our young guys – [Brendan Gallagher], [Alex Galchenyuk], [Jarred Tinordi], [Gabriel Dumont] – those guys got their first taste, they saw what it's like, how hard it is. For our other guys – like myself, [Brian Gionta], [Travis Moen], [Michael Ryder] – guys that have been around for a little bit, it's not easy. There's not a lot of time to succeed and get the ultimate goal. It gets harder and harder."

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Senators understand danger banged-up Habs present

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor LNH.com

MONTREAL -- If there is one team in the NHL that understands not to take an injury-ravaged opponent lightly, it would be the Ottawa Senators.

After all, the Senators were written off by most after losing No. 1 goalie Craig Anderson, No. 1 defenseman Erik Karlsson and No. 1 center Jason Spezza for long stretches this season, with Spezza still out recovering from back surgery.

But those heavy losses did not stop the Senators from making the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and now that they are there, their opponent is a team facing the same type of challenge.

The Montreal Canadiens enter Game 5 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series against the Senators on Thursday (7 p.m. ET; CBC, RDS, CNBC) down 3-1 and missing their starting goaltender and four important forwards.

"We know that adversity can lead to opportunity," Senators coach Paul MacLean said. "We've done it ourselves, so we should be aware of it."

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Senators attribute success to MacLean's confidence

Erin Nicks - NHL.com Correspondent

OTTAWA -- Ottawa Senators coach Paul MacLean is a calm, confident man, and his players think that attitude has made all the difference.

The Senators, who have a 3-1 lead against the Montreal Canadiens in the teams' Eastern Conference Quarterfinal, have weathered a storm of drama and distractions through four games, largely because of their coach.

"He's a leader, and everyone in this room respects him," goaltender Craig Anderson said. "He just has a calming effect when he speaks. He knows how to show video and how to talk to get guys to listen. He's great at getting guys to change their behavior."

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Canadiens' Gionta to have season-ending surgery

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor LNH.com

BROSSARD, Quebec -- Montreal Canadiens captain Brian Gionta will undergo season-ending surgery Friday on a torn left biceps muscle, the team announced Wednesday.

This is the second year in a row Gionta has torn his biceps muscle; he previously had surgery Jan 11, 2012 to repair a torn right biceps muscle.

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Canadiens look to regroup after painful loss

Erin Nicks - NHL.com Correspondent

OTTAWA – The Montreal Canadiens are heading home with their backs against the wall.

A 3-2 loss in overtime to the Ottawa Senators leaves the Canadiens down 3-1 in their Eastern Conference Quarterfinals series, with Game 5 set for Thursday in Montreal (7 p.m. ET, CNBC, CBC, RDS).

It was a game the Canadiens appeared to have in the bag -- they led 2-0 with less than half of the third period to go, only to see the Senators rally to force overtime before Kyle Turris' goal 2:32 into the extra period moved the seventh-seeded Senators within one victory of ousting the second-seeded Canadiens.

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Canadiens' Carey Price leaves with injury

NHL.com

Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price did not come out for overtime of Game 4 of his team's Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series against the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday night due to an apparent injury.

Peter Budaj led the Canadiens onto the ice for overtime and allowed the winning goal by Kyle Turris 2:32 into overtime as the Senators rallied for a 3-2 victory and a 3-1 lead in the best-of-7 series.

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Anderson holding edge in goalie matchup with Price

Erin Nicks - NHL.com Correspondent

OTTAWA -- In the midst of rising emotions between the Ottawa Senators and Montreal Canadiens, a goaltending battle continues unabated.

The Senators lead the Canadiens 2-1 in their Eastern Conference Quarterfinals series, with Game 4 set for Tuesday at Scotiabank Place (7 p.m. ET, CNBC, CBC, RDS). While many assumed the matchup in net would be relatively even, Ottawa's Craig Anderson has outshone his opponent, Montreal's Carey Price, through three games.

Anderson has a .949 save percentage through three games, placing him third among the 16 starting  goaltenders in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. His goals-against average sits at 2.01, which ranks sixth. Price finds himself 15th in both categories, with a 3.69 GAA and .879 save percentage.

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