The Ottawa Senators have clinched the second wild card spot in the Atlantic Division with a 3-2 win over the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday night at the Canadian Tire Centre.
It is the Sens’ second wild-card berth in three seasons and their second since the team acquired defenseman Chris Wideman from the Nashville Predators for a first-round draft pick in February 2018.
Senators coach Guy Boucher was asked about Wideman on Saturday, telling reporters he’s an asset.
“He’s a good guy, he’s a great player,” Boucher said.
“When you have two guys like that, it makes you better.
It makes you more resilient and more determined.”
Wideman is tied for the league lead with a plus-11 rating and has recorded at least three goals in every game this season.
He was the Senators’ third defenseman in the expansion draft, but was sent back to junior hockey last season.
The Sens also have goaltender Jonas Hiller, who won the Vezina Trophy in 2016-17, and winger Cody Ceci, who is coming off his best season with the Montreal Impact.
It will be Hiller’s second time playing for the Sens after he was traded to Nashville for forwards Mark Stone and Mike Hoffman.
Hiller played in a 4-3-1-2 formation with the Predators in 2016, posting a 1.87 goals-against average, a .927 save percentage and two shutouts in 28 games.
He also led Nashville with 20 points (six goals, 15 assists) in 30 games with Ottawa last season before signing a one-year deal with Nashville in March.
“It’s been a very good year,” Hiller said.
“(Playing) with Cory is a big plus, so it makes it even better.
We have a lot of good young guys coming into this league.
It’s good for our team to be able to play with those guys.
We know we have a good young core, but it’s good to be part of it.”
Hiller has posted a .916 save percentage this season and is the third-best goalie in the NHL behind Cam Talbot (1.89) and Henrik Lundqvist (1 .933).
He’s been on a hot streak with a 2.23 goals-per-game average since the start of February.
Hillers play will come against a Montreal team that has scored six goals in its last five games, the longest such stretch in the conference.
“I think it’s going to be a tough game,” Hillers coach Todd McLellan said of the Canadiens.
“We know what we’re doing.
They know what they’re doing.”
The Senators were 2-0-1 against Montreal in the regular season, but won four of their last five.
They won two of three games last season when the Canadiens were 4-1.
They also defeated the Canadiens in five games in the first round in the playoffs last year, including a 6-2 victory on a goal by Chris Widemen.
Hillman, who signed a three-year contract extension in March, is tied with Jarred Tinordi for the most points among Ottawa defensemen.
Hill’s point total ranks second in the league behind Tinordis (16).
He had 10 points (four goals, seven assists) last season, his first with the Senators.