Playoffs to pit Pens againstSFlbIsles

Staff/wire report

Jean-Gabriel Pageau scored the tiebreaking goal with 3:34 to play and the Ottawa Senators beat Boston 4-2 on Sunday night in the NHL’s rescheduled regular-season finale.

The victory gave the Senators the seventh seed for the Eastern Conference playoffs and a matchup with Montreal and dropped the New York Islanders into eighth and a first-round series against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

The Islanders-Penguins series will open on Wednesday at Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh. Game 2 will be there on Friday.

Late Sunday, the NHL released its first-round schedule. The Pens-Islanders series will end by May 12 and have only five off days.

The Pens and Islanders have met three times in playoff series, with New York winning all three.

In 1975, the Islanders became the second NHL team to rally from a 3-0 deficit to eliminate the Penguins in the seven-game Eastern Conference semifinals.

In 1982’s best-of-five opening round series, the Penguins had a 3-1 lead with eight minutes to play in Game 5 when the Islanders rallied for an overtime victory.

In 1993, the Pens were the NHL’s top-seeded team when they lost in overtime in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals.

The Bruins, who could have won the Northeast Division and earned a No. 2 seed with a win, finished fourth; they will play Toronto in the first round.

In the other Eastern series, third-seeded Washington will face off against the sixth-place New York Rangers.

Senators forward Daniel Alfredsson said he’s always wanted to face the Canadiens in the playoffs.

Or was he just trying to avoid the top-seeded Penguins?

“We talked about mostly finishing better than last year,” Alfredsson said. “We were eighth last year, so to win here the last game and finish seventh it feels really good. We improved on last year, and that’s what we wanted.”

Kyle Turris added an empty-netter to help Ottawa win the game that was originally scheduled for April 15, the day of the Boston Marathon bombings.

It was the only NHL game on Sunday, with the rest of the league wrapping up the regular season by Saturday.

Ottawa opens the series in Montreal on Thursday.

“I think it will be a great series,” Alfredsson said. “The Bell Centre is one of the most exciting buildings to play in. It’s a great hockey town as well. ... I think it’s going to be an unbelievable atmosphere in both arenas, and I’m looking forward to a hard-fought series.”

Boston has not faced the Maple Leafs in the postseason since the first round of the 1974 playoffs. It is the only matchup of Original Six teams in the first round.

“You want to get the No. 2 spot, but at the end it doesn’t matter,” said defenseman Dennis Seidenberg, who scored just 14 seconds into the third period to tie it 2-all. “We still have home ice advantage in the first round, and the first round is always the toughest one to get out of. Everything else doesn’t matter now.”

Robin Lehner stopped 34 shots for the Senators, who had not beaten Boston in their previous 14 tries.

Tuukka Rask made 18 saves for Boston, which had won two straight division titles.

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