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Sens moving on up

Anderson, Conacher play starring roles in elimination of Habs

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The Montreal Canadiens hosted the Ottawa Senators at the Bell Centre in game 5 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinal. The Senators routed the Habs 6-1, clinching the series four games to one and eliminating the Canadiens from the playoffs.

MONTREAL — The Ottawa Senators are moving on to the second round of NHL playoffs.

Craig Anderson made 33 saves and Cory Conacher scored twice on a shaky Peter Budaj as the Senators downed the Montreal Canadiens 6-1 on Thursday night.

Ottawa won the best-of-seven Eastern Conference quarter-final 4-1 and will move on to the second round for the first time since 2007, when they reached the Stanley Cup final only to fall to the Anaheim Ducks.

The victory gives Ottawa time to rest up and heal bruises before the conference semifinals begin next week.

Zack Smith, Kyle Turris, Daniel Alfredsson and Erik Condra also scored for Ottawa, who were underdogs as the seventh seed in the East but who were bolstered down the stretch by the return of top players like defencemen Erik Karlsson and Jared Cowan.

P.K. Subban scored for injury-struck Montreal, which failed to solve Anderson. They scored only nine goals in the series, while their own spotty goaltending allowed 20.

Budaj made 23 saves.

Desperate to stay alive, Montreal stormed out of the gate and Anderson robbed Rene Bourque with the glove on a one-timer in the opening moments.

At the other end, Budaj was on the hotseat replacing the injured Carey Price in the Montreal net and the nerves showed early as the Senators scored on third shot of the night. A generous rebound was left in front for Smith to backhand into an open net only 2:17 into the game.

Another puck slipped behind him off a post and Conacher was there to tap it in at 12:26.

Montreal got one back on their first power play with 15 seconds to go in the period, as Subban wired a low point shot to the far corner.

The Bell Centre crowd booed as Turris gave Ottawa a 3-1 lead short-handed at 11:29 of the second frame. The Senators centre was pushed into Budaj by Tomas Plekanec and was on his hands and knees in the crease when an Erik Condra shot went in off his arm. It stood up to video review.

It was as quiet at the 21,273-seat rink as the Senators scored on three straight power-play chances. Alfredsson wristed a shot in at 6:22, Conacher beat Budaj from the left side at 12:27 and Condra poked in a loose puck in the crease at 16:12.

The Canadiens had five players injured in the series, including Price and forwards Brian Gionta, Lars Eller, Brandon Prust and Ryan White.

Montreal finished last in the conference last season and rose to second in the lockout-shortened 2013 campaign, but went into a funk late in the regular season and never recovered.

NOTES: Michael Blunden made his playoff debut for Montreal, while Budaj got his first career post-season start. Robert Mayer backed up Budaj ... Ottawa had no line-up changes from Game 4.

 

— The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 10, 2013 C1

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