PHILADELPHIA — Ottawa found its point and the postseason. Needing just one point in the season finale, the Senators wrapped up their sizzling second-half rally with a 3-1 win over the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday and clinched a spot in the Eastern Conference playoffs.
Headed toward a spot in the NHL draft lottery two months ago, the Senators finished 23-4-4 over their final 31 games to storm into the postseason.
The Senators hope they can play deep into the postseason behind goalie Andrew Hammond. Nicknamed the “Hamburglar,” Hammond went from a borderline AHL goalie to posting a 20-1-2 record since he was recalled in the second half. He stopped 34 shots and made sure the Senators would not need help from other teams to make the playoffs.
Mark Stone scored twice and Jean-Gabriel Pageau also scored for Ottawa. Matt Read scored for the Flyers. The 27-year-old Hammond entered with a 1.76 goals-against average since his recall from the AHL. Not bad for an undrafted rookie.
Ottawa fans have tossed hamburgers on the ice and the owner of six McDonald’s locations in the Ottawa Valley arranged for Hammond to have a card that gives him free McDonald’s food for life. He led the Senators to a super-sized record down the stretch and now they await their playoff destination. The Senators mobbed him at the net when the final horn sounded.
Stone also has led Ottawa’s surge, finishing the season with a nine-game points streak. He scored an empty-netter in the first period when goalie Steve Mason was wildly out of position off a misplayed shot. Stone made it 3-1 in the third with his 26th goal of the season. Pageau snapped a 1-1 tie in the second with his 10th goal and third in three games.
The Flyers finished 33-31-18 missed the playoffs for the second time in three seasons and this absence could cost coach Craig Berube his job. Berube led the Flyers to the playoffs last season when he took over with the team off to an 0-3 start. Berube was elevated from an assistant to the head job by former general manager Paul Holmgren. Ron Hextall, in his first season calling the shots, could go in a different direction with the Flyers set to have a top-10 draft lottery pick and a potential rebuild ahead.
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