Karls­son leads Se­na­tors past Rangers 4-2

Ot­tawa ad­vances to Eastern Con­fer­ence fi­nal

Cape Breton Post - - Sports - BY DE­NIS P. GOR­MAN

Cap­tain Erik Karls­son scored and added an as­sist to lead the Ot­tawa Se­na­tors to a 4-2 win over the New York Rangers in Game 6 of the Eastern Con­fer­ence semi­fi­nal on Tues­day night.

The Se­na­tors have reached the Eastern Con­fer­ence fi­nal for the third time in fran­chise his­tory, mak­ing it that deep into the play­offs in 2003 and 2007.

Ot­tawa won its best-of-seven se­ries with New York 4-2, and awaits the win­ner of the Pen­guins-Cap­i­tals semi.

Game 7 of that se­ries is Wed­nes­day at the Ver­i­zon Cen­ter in Wash­ing­ton D.C.

Mike Hoff­man, Mark Stone and Jean-Gabriel Pageau scored for the Se­na­tors, and Craig An­der­son stopped 37 of 39 shots.

Mika Zibane­jad and Chris Krei­der scored for New York. Hen­rik Lundqvist made 22 saves.

For the sec­ond time in three years, the Rangers’ sea­son ended on home ice. And for 22nd straight year, the Rangers be­gin their summer with­out a Stan­ley Cup to cel­e­brate.

This might be the most painful de­feat as Lundqvist turned

35 ear­lier this sea­son, and there has been sea­son-long spec­u­la­tion that gen­eral man­ager Jeff Gor­ton may at­tempt to ei­ther trade or buy out vet­eran de­fence­men Dan Gi­rardi and Marc Staal in an at­tempt to get younger and free up salary cap space. Ac­cord­ing to CapFriendly.com, New York has 18 play­ers signed to NHL con­tracts worth $63.8 mil­lion, and has $9.2 mil­lion in avail­able cap space. The Rangers have six re­stricted free agents (Zibane­jad, Bran­don Pirri, Jesper Fast, Matt Puem­pel, Oscar Lind­berg and Adam Clen­den­ing) and two unrestricted free agents (Tan­ner

Glass and Bren­dan Smith).

Hoff­man deftly redi­rected Karls­son’s slap pass from the point 4:27 into the game to stop the Se­na­tors’ se­ries-long trend of al­low­ing the game-open­ing goal. Karls­son be­gan the se­quence which cul­mi­nated with Hoff­man’s fourth of the play­offs by block­ing a Nick Holden shot be­fore lead­ing the rush up-ice.

Ot­tawa very nearly took a 2-0 lead with 6:49 left in the pe­riod on a Karls­son slap­shot from the right wing, but Lundqvist made a daz­zling glove save as he fell to the ice. But there was noth­ing the New York goal­keeper could do on Stone’s goal one minute 36 sec­onds later.

Stone’s goal, his fourth of the play­offs, was chal­lenged by New York head coach Alain Vigneault as the Rangers be­lieved Kyle Tur­ris was off­side. A re­view up­held the rul­ing on the ice.

Zibane­jad, the ex-Se­na­tor, halved the lead with a snap­shot past An­der­son’s glove at 13:32 of the sec­ond pe­riod. The goal was Zibane­jad’s sec­ond of the play­offs. But for all in­tents and pur­poses, Karls­son’s snap­shot from the low slot at 15:53 ended the se­ries. The goal was his sec­ond of the play­offs and his 13th point over­all. It also fin­ished a chain in which Mats Zuc­carello’s div­ing, des­per­ate cross ice pass to Zibane­jad was knocked away, lead­ing to Karls­son’s coun­ter­at­tack­ing with Bobby Ryan.

Krei­der’s third of the play­offs 53 sec­onds into the third cut the Se­na­tors’ lead to 3-2. Krei­der had a chance to tie the game nearly five min­utes later, but An­der­son’s pad save kept Ot­tawa in the lead. New York pressed in the third, but couldn’t score the ty­ing goal. The Rangers out­shot Ot­tawa, 15-5, in the pe­riod and 38-26 for the game.

Pageau’s empty-net­ter with seven sec­onds left in the third ended the scor­ing.

AP PHOTO

Ot­tawa Se­na­tors’ Mike Hoff­man (68) cel­e­brates with team­mates af­ter scor­ing a goal dur­ing the first pe­riod of Game 6 of an NHL hockey Stan­ley Cup sec­ond-round play­off se­ries against the New York Rangers, Tues­day, May 9, 2017, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

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