Senators clinch playoff spot with win over Islanders

Anderson41 Press

Posted on 01 April 2012. By Tags: ,

Senators clinch playoff spot with win over Islanders

UNIONDALE, New York — The pregame news sounded like an April Fools’ Day joke: Both Daniel Alfredsson and Jason Spezza would miss Sunday’s potentially playoff-clinching game against the New York Islanders.


But it wasn’t a joke.

Alfredsson had the flu, and Spezza was in Ottawa with his wife Jennifer and family to celebrate the early-morning birth of his second daughter, Nicola Patricia (there was some thought Spezza would make it back for the game but it wasn’t possible).

Hardly an ideal scenario, especially with the team coming off a draining 4-3 shootout win over the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday afternoon.

But you would have hardly noticed.

Rob Klinkhammer and Bobby Butler, who were supposed to sit, stepped in for Alfredsson and Spezza, and the Senators clinched a playoff berth with a 5-1 win over the Islanders.

It couldn’t have felt better for the players who endured a dismal 2010-11 season.

“It’s great,” said Chris Phillips.

“Not just for the sake of being there and having a chance, but to prove a lot of people wrong, who didn’t give us much of a chance when this season started.”

Now, all that has to be determined is where the Senators finish and who they will play in the first round. But it’s looking more and more as if the Bruins will be Ottawa’s first-round opponent.

Craig Anderson said the players knew they’d be in if they won and embraced the challenge.

“We were all pumped about it,” he said.

“This was an opportunity for us to come in and get two points and secure our own fate and not rely on other teams to do the work for us.

“So it was the No. 1 thing on our mind.”

The Senators got big games from Kyle Turris, who had two goals and two assists, Milan Michalek, who had a goal and two assists, and Sergei Gonchar, who had a goal and an assist.

Nick Foligno also scored for the Senators.

Mark Streit scored for the Islanders.

Anderson faced 30 shots while the beleaguered Al Montoya, who gave up six goals to the Boston Bruins on Saturday, matching a career high for goals allowed, faced 32.

Coach Paul MacLean wasn’t sure whether he would have predicted the team would make the playoffs at the start of the year but said it was something the team could take a lot of satisfaction from.

“I know that in this league it’s always a realistic possibility (to make the playoffs) but I also know that it’s real difficult,” he said.

“What I wanted to do, like we’ve said all season, is come in and build a foundation for winning in the future. And whenever that future is — is it now? — I don’t know.

“But once you’re in the playoffs, it’s difficult, but when you have the opportunity, anything can happen, and sometimes it does.”


WHY THEY WON: Even without two of their bigger stars, the Senators were not going to let this chance to clinch a playoff spot slip away. They got big games from Milan Michalek, Kyle Turris, and Sergei Gonchar.

STUD: Kyle Turris. He’s been among the hotter Senators this days. With two goals and two assists against the Islanders, he has four goals and four assists over his last four games.

DUD: Al Montoya. Not a lot of help from his teammates, but with this loss on top of Saturday’s 6-3 loss to the Bruins, he gave up 11 goals in 24 hours. That’s not pretty.

MILAN’S CHASE: Michalek’s goal and two assists against the Islanders gave him 60 points (35 goals, 25 assists). That puts him within shooting distance of his career-best season of 66 points (26 goals, 40 assists) set in 2006-07.