Perhaps nobody bothered to tell the Ottawa Senators’ rookie forwards that inexperienced players aren’t supposed to have instant success in the NHL playoffs.

“I think it has been good for us, just going out there and playing and doing what we do, and the whole ‘not knowing what it’s all about thing’ is maybe good in a way,” Mika Zibanejad suggested following practice in Ottawa Wednesday. “We do have a lot of experienced guys who know what you need to do to go far, so it’s a good mix, just letting the young guys go and do their thing.”

After the Senators pulled off the craziest magic trick imaginable to defeat the Montreal Canadiens 3-2 in overtime Tuesday at Scotiabank Place to take a 3-1 series lead, they’re in position to advance to the second round with a victory Thursday at the Bell Centre.

While the leadership of Daniel Alfredsson, Chris Phillips, Chris Neil and Sergei Gonchar has been instrumental, they also wouldn’t be here without the contributions of their rookie crew.

— In Game 1 last Thursday, 22-year-old Jakob Silfverberg beat Canadiens goaltender Carey Price with a slapshot that tied the game 2-2, the first of three in the third period goals in the 4-2 victory.

— In Game 3 Sunday, 20-year-old Jean-Gabriel Pageau caused wild celebrations on both sides of the Ottawa River with his unlikely hat trick, scoring the Senators’ second, third and sixth goals in a 6-1 romp by the Senators.

— In Game 4 Tuesday, the Senators pulled off their stunning comeback with the aid of two more first-year players. Zibanajed, who turned 20 three weeks ago, gave them life by scoring with eight minutes left. With time ticking down and goaltender Craig Anderson on the bench for an extra skater, Senators coach Paul MacLean told 23-year-old Cory Conacher to go directly to the front of the net. He did just that, burying the puck in the slot underneath Price with only 22.6 seconds left, tying the game 2-2.

Again, it’s not supposed to happen like this in the NHL playoffs, is it? Think back to the NHL trade deadline, when most of the fuss was about the front-running teams overspending to add veteran experience to carry them through the tough post-season battles.

“I try to say that nothing surprises me, but if you don’t give them the opportunity, they can’t step up, either,” said MacLean. “The coach can’t always get wrapped up in what somebody did at a certain part of the game. You have to find a way to win. You have to have the right people on the ice to try and win a game.”