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Senators complete comeback, clinch wild card

by Adam Kimelman /

PHILADELPHIA -- The Ottawa Senators remarkable run has carried them into the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Jean-Gabriel Pageau scored the go-ahead goal Saturday in the second period and goaltender Andrew Hammond made 34 saves to help the Senators to a 3-1 win against the Philadelphia Flyers at Wells Fargo Center.

The win clinched a playoff berth for Ottawa, which is 23-4-4 in its final 31 games.

"What an unbelievable run," Senators forward Kyle Turris said. "Now the fun part begins."

Ottawa is the first wild card into the playoffs from the Eastern Conference and will face the New York Rangers in the First Round.

Mark Stone scored two goals for the Senators, who clinched a playoff spot for the first time in three seasons.

Matt Read scored for the Flyers. Goaltender Steve Mason made 19 saves.

Pageau gave the Senators a 2-1 lead with 3:42 remaining in the second period. He drew a roughing penalty on the Flyers forward Brayden Schenn during a scrum in front of the Flyers goal moments earlier. While the Senators didn't score, they had possession of the puck when the advantage ended. Marc Methot rushed the puck end-to-end along the left-wing boards, but to the net and got a shot on goal. Mason stopped Methot's shot but couldn't control the rebound, and Pageau reached in and poked it into the net of this 10th goal.

That was the spark that got the Senators going as they had 12 shots in the first 36:18 of the game.

"Those are the goals that you need," Senators captain Erik Karlsson said. "You need those that you don't really suspect go in. Obviously it makes us comfortable playing with the lead."

That span of 2:12 showcased the full extent of Pageau's game, where he can agitate the other team and then make it even more painful for the opposition when he scores.

"I like to play my role, finish my checks," Pageau said. "It's in the game plan, not because I'm smaller. I do all the little details, and for sure the other team doesn't like that."

Stone scored his second goal of the game at 11:49 of the third period. Flyers forward Jakub Voracek fumbled the puck above the circles while trying to exit his zone, and Stone picked it up and scored his 26th goal.

He had scored 6:06 into the first period with a shot from the slot off a set-up from Clarke MacArthur after Turris had stolen the puck from Mason.

The two goals extended Stone's point streak to nine games, and with 64 points he tied Johnny Gaudreau of the Calgary Flames for the rookie scoring lead.

"Rookie of the year," Turris said of Stone. "He's played unbelievable. When we've needed him most he's been amazing. He does everything. So good with his stick at turnovers, helping out in faceoffs circle, playing well defensively. You add how smart he is and how well he sees the ice offensively, he's the full package."

Stone said he isn't focused on the Calder Trophy race; he's got bigger things on his mind.

"I think I've played well," he said. "More excited to be going to the playoffs than anything."

Hammond, who emerged as a driving force in the Senators playoff run, made the lead stand up. He made 29 saves through two periods when the Flyers outshot the Senators 30-13. His best saves came in the second, when he smothered a Michael Raffl shot from the slot on a Flyers power play, and then robbed Voracek in front in the middle of the period. With 1:58 left, he stopped a Raffl shot from the right side, but the puck leaked through him and Hammond had to lay back to snare it before it crossed the goal line.

"They were really good at getting traffic," Hammond said. "It was tough to see pucks tonight but we did a good job overall just getting rid of rebounds. We didn't have our legs the first two periods and we just tried keeping them at bay, letting our team get into the game, and we were able to do that."

Hammond is 10-0-2 on the road and is the first goalie to help his team get a point in each of his first 12 road starts, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

"What he's done for us has been incredible," Stone said. "Not much more you can say about the guy. He gave us a chance to win every game. That's all you can ask for from your goalie."

The Flyers finished the season on a two-game losing streak and scored one goal in each game. Read's goal, off the rebound of a Brayden Schenn wraparound attempt, was all Philadelphia could manage Saturday.

"It would have been good to have a last game of the season win and eliminate them from the playoffs," Read said. "It was kind of one of those games again where a couple of bounces don't go our way. I thought we finished strong. I thought we played a pretty good game this game, and the last couple of games we've been playing strong. Unfortunately we lost the last two, but it's something we can just get better for next year and start preparing for next year."

The Senators season rolls on, as unexpected as it might be. They were 14 points out of a playoff spot on Feb. 10; they're the first team in history to be that far out of a playoff spot at any point in a season and make the playoffs.

"It's a bit of a Cinderella story," Senators coach Dave Cameron said. "You don't expect to come from as far back as we did. And you're not going to be able to do it too often; the odds are just stacked against you in the best League in the world. But once in a while you get to be involved with a team that's a special team, a team that plays for one another. We knew right from the get-go for our team to have success we have to be better than the sum of our parts. The way you do that is turn your skill over to the team. What we've done is get 25 guys to do that and that's why we've had success."


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