After six months and 81 regular season games, the Ottawa Senators playoff hopes will come down to 60 minutes — and it looks like they’ll be missing two of their key players to boot.
The Senators’ fate will be determined tonight when they meet the Boston Bruins at Scotiabank Place. Ottawa needs a least one point to guarantee a spot in this year’s post-season. Should it lose, the team could be on the outside looking in when the playoffs begin.
The Senators took one step closer to securing a place in the Eastern Conference’s top eight last night as they cruised to an 8-2 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs in front of 19,466 fans at the Air Canada Centre.
Ottawa has 94 points and occupies sixth place in the conference. Boston and the surging Washington Capitals are two points behind in seventh and eighth place, with the Bruins holding a game in hand.
The victory came with a high price, though, as Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson left the game in the first period after being elbowed in the head by Toronto forward Mark Bell and Mike Fisher went down with reported knee injury. Media reports suggest Alfredsson suffered a concussion and a knee injury and that neither player will be in the lineup for tonight’s game.
Antoine Vermette picked up his first NHL hat trick along with an assist to lead the Senators in the victory. Dany Heatley had two goals including his 40th of the season. Jason Spezza and rookie Cody Bass had a goal and an assist apiece. Dean McAmmond had the other Ottawa goal.
Ottawa scored three goals at even strength, three times short-handed, and twice with the man-advantage as its offence came to life after being shut out in its two previous encounters against Montreal and Boston.
Bell and Dominic Moore had the Leafs’ goals. Darcy Tucker picked up two assists for Toronto, which had been eliminated from the playoffs earlier this week.
Ottawa goalie Martin Gerber made 26 saves for his 100th career win. Gerber’s record improved to 30-17-4.
If the Senators make the playoffs, the highest they could finish in the standings is fifth place and they would start a series on the road late next week.