NEW YORK — 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, Mike 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.
Amongst the 18,006 in attendance were tennis legend John McEnroe, comedian John Oliver, Canadian singer Paul Anka, actress Debra Messing, actor Cuba Gooding Jr., and retired New York Giants defensive end Justin Tuck.