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Senators don't have to look far for inspiration

Erik Karlsson, Clarke MacArthur, Craig Anderson among Ottawa players who persevered throughout season, playoffs

by Chris Stevenson / Correspondent

OTTAWA -- The Ottawa Senators didn't have to look far for inspiration when they defeated the Boston Bruins in six games in the Eastern Conference First Round.

Captain Erik Karlsson played with two hairline fractures in his left heel and was dominant. He had six assists, was plus-3, and limited the top players on the Bruins. Karlsson played 41:51 in Game 5 on Friday.

"I'll probably get in trouble for saying this, but whether you believe in whatever you believe in, they always say God rested on the seventh day. I think on the eighth day, He created Erik Karlsson," Senators general manager Pierre Dorion said Monday. "We're fortunate to have Erik Karlsson."

Karlsson, a finalist for the Norris Trophy awarded to the League's top defenseman, won the award in 2012 and 2015.

Dorion said he was surprised Karlsson revealed he was playing with the fractures, which he reportedly sustained March 28 when he blocked a shot against the Philadelphia Flyers.

Karlson returned April 3 for a back-to-back against the Detroit Red Wings, flying into Detroit the afternoon of the first game. The Senators earned three out of four points in the games to earn a Stanley Cup Playoff berth.

"I know he played through a lot of pain in those two games to get us into the playoffs," Dorion said. "The injury has healed over time, but he's not 100 percent. He won't be 100 percent probably until next September. The ability to play through pain and be as dominant as he has not being 100 percent says a lot about him."

Video: OTT@BOS, GM 4: Ryan nets Karlsson's perfect pass

The Senators, who begin the second round against the New York Rangers with Game 1 at Canadian Tire Centre on Thursday (7 p.m. ET; CNBC, CBC, TVA Sports), had other inspiring sources as well.

Forward Clarke MacArthur, who was told he wouldn't play again this season, returned to score two goals, including the series-clinching goal in overtime in Game 6 on Sunday. That win was witnessed by the wife of Senators goaltender Craig Anderson, Nicholle, who has throat cancer.

Dorion announced Jan. 20 that MacArthur, 32, would not play again this season after he did not get clearance to play following multiple concussions in 18 months, the most recent occurring in training camp in September.

MacArthur continued to work out and returned April 4 to play four regular-season games. He also scored in Game 2, and Dorian said MacArthur personified the Senators' willingness to do the little things to win.

"We were all so proud to be part of the moment where Clarke scored [Sunday], but in the third period he blocked two shots and those could have been goals. I know they scored not long after, but we did the little things."

Dorion said MacArthur repeatedly told him during his recovery, "'I know I can help this team.' Let's not fool ourselves. He helped this team a lot."

Anderson, who took a leave of absence from Dec. 5-Feb. 9 to be with Nicholle while she was receiving treatments for nasopharyngeal cancer, had a 1.96 goals-against average and .924 save percentage in the first round.

Video: OTT@BOS, Gm6: Anderson shuts down Acciari's one-timer

"I think when you look and probably the person you love the most on Earth is going through what they're going through and his ability to block it out, to focus on his teammates, I don't know I can put that into words," Dorion said.

"He comes here, he's as good a pro as I've ever seen in my NHL career. He allows us to win every game. Some of those saves he made the other day in the third period when we were on our heels ... I don't know how many goalies in the game make saves like that. At the same time, his wife is in the crowd, she hasn't seen him in three weeks. It just speaks so much about his focus for the game, but at the same time his love for his family, his love for his wife.

"It was just great to see her after the game. It was great that we're doing this for ourselves, our organization, but at the same time what Nicholle is going through." 

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