The Hamburglar got the Senators this far, but it was Mark Stone who carried them over the finish line. The Sens rookie scored twice against Philadelphia to help Ottawa clinch a playoff berth and complete its incredible late-season surge.
That spot might have belonged to the Pittsburgh Penguins or Boston Bruins, but one of those teams will now miss the post-season because of a historic late-season charge by the Sens.
That incredible run started when Andrew Hammond took the net in mid-February, but lately, it’s been propelled by the emergence of 22-year-old Mark Stone.
Stone scored the first and third goals for the Sens in their 3-1 win over Philadelphia, extending his current point streak to nine games and giving him 26 goals and 64 points on the season.
Not bad for a sixth-round draft pick playing his first full season in the NHL.
Stone’s first goal of the game came on the power play with Steve Mason way out of position on a routine save. Mason lost control of a Kyle Turris shot and it went to Clarke MacArthur, who fed Stone in the slot for the goal.
His second goal was a thing of beauty. Stone stripped Jakub Voracek of the puck in the Flyers zone and was simply too quick for Mason, beating him through the legs on a wrister.
Stone is now tied for the rookie scoring lead with the Flames’ Johnny Gaudreau, but his 26 goals give him the tiebreaker over Gaudreau’s 24. Gaudreau didn’t suit up for Calgary’s season finale, so he and Stone will finish the year tied.
There are many worthy Calder candidates this year, including Gaudreau and Filip Forsberg up front, and Aaron Ekblad and John Klingberg on the back end. But Stone’s incredible year – especially with his late-season surge – has to make him one of the three finalists.
Ottawa has been dynamite in this unlikely surge into the playoffs. They’re 21-4-4 since Andrew Hammond joined the team on Feb. 16, with nine wins of those wins coming in one-goal games. Hammond was in net for most of that stretch, registering an incredible 20-1-2 record with three shutouts, a .941 save percentage and 1.79 goals-against average.
But coach Dave Cameron also deserves a lot of the credit. Cameron took over an 11-11-5 team near the bottom of the East and transformed it into a 32-15-8 juggernaut.
Cameron absolutely deserves to be in the Jack Adams conversation after this run.
And how about Bryan Murray, whose inspirational battle with cancer seemed to galvanize the rest of his organization? Murray trusted his team at the trade deadline, and they responded with this amazing finish.
The Sens will now wait to see how the rest of Saturday’s games shake out. Depending on the play of the Detroit Red Wings, Ottawa could finish as high as third in the Atlantic Division.
No matter what happens, the Sens have guaranteed one thing.
They’re going to the playoffs.