There will be an all-Canadian matchup in the opening round of the Stanley Cup playoffs, but it’s not the showdown many hockey fans had been anticipating.
The prospect of a Montreal-Toronto clash disappeared Sunday night when the Ottawa Senators beat the Bruins 4-2 in Boston. That result, coupled with the Canadiens’ 4-1 win over the Leafs Saturday night, gave the Canadiens first place in the Northeast Division and the No. 2 overall seed in the Eastern Conference.
That means Montreal will play Ottawa in a best-of-seven series that opens Thursday night at the Bell Centre. Game 2 will be Friday night at the Bell Centre, before the series shifts to Ottawa for Game 4 on Sunday and Game 5 on Tuesday, May 7. Those games will all start at 7 p.m. If necessary, Game 5 will be on Thursday, May 9 at the Bell Centre, Game 6 is slated for Saturday, May 11 in Ottawa and Game 7 on Sunday, May 12 at the Bell Centre.
The Canadiens had a 2-1-1 record against the Senators in the regular season. This will be the first playoff meeting between the two teams since the Senators returned to the NHL in 1992. The Canadiens head into the playoffs on a two-game winning streak after beating Winnipeg 4-2 on Thursday before defeating the Leafs.
The other first-round matchups in the Eastern Conference are Pittsburgh vs. the New York Islanders, Toronto vs. Boston and Washington vs. the New York Rangers.
The Bruins enter the playoffs having lost seven of their last nine games (including one overtime loss and another in a shootout) and Sunday’s game was their sixth in eight nights. The Leafs have lost four of their last six games. The Bruins and Leafs haven’t met in the playoffs since 1974, when Boston won in a first-round sweep.
The first round matchups in the Western Conference are Chicago vs. Minnesota, Anaheim vs. Detroit, Vancouver vs. San Jose and St. Louis vs. Los Angeles.
The Canadiens will practice at 11 a.m. Monday in Brossard.
(Photo by Allen McInnis/The Gazette)