OTTAWA -- The numbness the Ottawa Senators felt after the abrupt end of their season Sunday had given way to optimism by Tuesday.
After an unprecedented rally over the final two months of the regular season to earn a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the young Senators were eliminated in the Eastern Conference First Round in six games by the Montreal Canadiens.
The Senators were 14 points out of a playoff spot on Feb. 10, but bolstered by the emergence of goaltender Andrew Hammond, a 27-year-old undrafted free agent, they finished the season 23-4-4 to earn the first wild card.
Hammond started his NHL career 20-1-2 in the regular season before giving way to veteran Craig Anderson after the Senators lost the first two games against the Canadiens."A lot of great things that happened, but it's always tough coming to the rink when other teams are still playing," Hammond said as the players gathered for exit and media interviews.