By erasing memories of playoff flops and financial woes, the Ottawa Senators have landed a step away from the Stanley Cup finals.
Known more for failing as postseason favorites in recent years and for going bankrupt in this one, the Senators have reached the Eastern Conference finals for the first time in their 11-year history.
Ottawa scored twice in the first period and twice in the second to overwhelm the Philadelphia Flyers, 5-1, Monday night at Philadelphia.
“We never had any doubts that we could do it,” captain Daniel Alfredsson said.
“We haven’t been afraid to talk about going all the way. We’ve been a little bit more cocky than we have before, but in a good way.”
Peter Schaefer got the Senators going less than three minutes in, and Mike Fisher also scored in the first period. Alfredsson and Bryan Smolinski scored second-period goals to make it a rout. Wade Redden had two assists, and Patrick Lalime was sturdy in making 18 saves.
“You can’t look too far ahead; we want to get to the finals,” Alfredsson said.
“We’re probably going to have to play even better than we have so far.”
Beginning with the conference final against New Jersey.
The Senators filed for bankruptcy protection earlier this season and were delayed in paying players at New Year’s. They shrugged all that off this season, in which they earned the most points in the league (113). And they dispatched the Flyers from the playoffs for the second consecutive season, this time in six games.
“It’s been a different [season], we’ve gone through a lot together,” Redden said. “We’ve pulled together and it’s made us a stronger club.”
Michal Handzus scored for the Flyers, who were outscored, 10-3, in the last two games of the series.
Goalie Roman Cechmanek didn’t have his usual bounce-back game and Philadelphia lost consecutive playoff games for the first time this season. Cechmanek finished with 25 saves.
Minnesota 7, Vancouver 2 -- Cliff Ronning scored his first two goals of the playoffs and Marian Gaborik had his league-best ninth and the Wild averted elimination.
Richard Park, Jason Marshall, Andrew Brunette and Wes Walz also scored for the Wild at Vancouver, Canada.
Minnesota trails, 3-2, in the series. The Wild heads home for Game 6 on Wednesday night. Game 7, if necessary, would be Thursday in Vancouver.
Brendan Morrison and Henrik Sedin scored for the Canucks, who lost for only the second time in eight games.
Vancouver’s Dan Cloutier gave up six goals on 21 shots and was replaced after two periods by rookie Alex Auld.
Dwayne Roloson was back in net for the Wild after Manny Fernandez started Game 4. Roloson, who started Games 2 and 3, made 25 saves.
Minnesota, which rallied from a 3-1 deficit against Colorado in the first round, broke open the game with five goals in the second period.