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No Spezza, no Alfredsson, no problem: Senators clinch playoff berth

Ottawa Senators fans thought they were the victims of an April Fool’s Day joke when they tuned in to watch their team take on the New York Islanders Sunday afternoon, but in the end the joke was on the teams trailing Ottawa in the standings as the Senators won the game 5-1 and punched their playoff ticket.

The announcers opened the broadcast and said that Jason Spezza and Daniel Alfredsson were scratched from the line up, but it was no joke. Spezza had returned to Ottawa for the birth of his second daughter, and the captain was out with the flu. Bobby Butler, and Rob Klinkhammer drew into the line up to replace the two veteran skaters.

The Senators did receive some good news before the game when they learned that gritty forward Jesse Winchester would return to the line up after missing 44 games with a concussion.

The first period featured some decent action, and the Islanders got on the board first when Mark Streit booted the puck into the Ottawa net after a John Tavares feed from below the goal line deflected off his foot.

I thought for sure the goal would be over turned because Streit clearly turned his foot and directed the puck into the net, but the people in the war-room in Toronto obviously had a different opinion.

Kyle Turris got the Senators even with just over three minutes in first period when he out waited Islanders netminder Al Montoya, and fired the puck into the open net.

Ottawa put the pedal to the metal in the second period, and went ahead 4-1 on goals by Sergei Gonchar, Milan Michalek and Nick Foligno.

Turris continued to make general manager Bryan Murray look good when he salted the game away for Ottawa with his second goal of the game. The Ottawa centre showed some a fair bit of tenacity when he banged the puck past Montoya on the powerplay to make the score 5-1.

Turris really stepped up in this game for the Senators. He was a force down the middle, and led the way offensively with four points in the game.

Craig Anderson continued his solid play making 29 saves on the day, and picked up his 33rd win of the season.

Next, the Senators will get ready to play the Carolina Hurricanes in a Tuesday night tilt.