CALGARY – Craig Anderson had been beaten enough by Bobby Butler in practice to know it was only a matter of time before the Ottawa Senators sophomore broke out with a big night.
Anderson made 38 saves and Butler scored his first two goals of the season to lead the Senators to a 3-1 victory over the Calgary Flames on Tuesday.
“It’s one of those things where statistically, you knew he was going to have a breakout game where he was going to score a couple,”said Anderson. “He’s been really good in practice lately, ripping a few pucks past me, so it was nice to see him do it to someone else.”
Butler made a nice toe-drag move against defenceman Mark Giordano, then snapped a shot over the glove of goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff to break a 1-1 tie at 9:50 of the third period.
“It had been a little while so it definitely felt good to get the first one of the season,” said Butler, who exploded onto the scene in his rookie campaign scoring 10 goals in just 36 games.
The 24 year old had been shut out in his first nine games this year.
“It was a highlight reel goal for your first goal of the year and for Bobby, he could have kicked it in and he would have taken it,” said Ottawa coach Paul MacLean.
MacLean rewarded Butler with extra ice time in the third period and he eventually added his second goal at 16:12 to make it 3-1, bursting down the right wing and firing a wrist shot inside the far goal post.
“After he scored the first goal, he was right back on the ice again. When good things happen in the game, you reward the players that are playing well,” MacLean said.
Anderson was impressive for the second straight outing after getting shelled for four goals on six shots before getting pulled against Buffalo last Friday.
“When you have a bad game, you want to get right back in there and prove everybody that you can do a good job,” said Anderson, who stopped 31 of 33 shots Saturday night against Toronto. “The guys have been playing really well the last couple games, allowing me to make the saves from the outside, control the rebounds, and the defence has done a great job of cleaning up in front.”
Daniel Alfredsson also scored for Ottawa (9-9-1). On the heels of a five-game winless streak, the Senators have won two games in a row as they reach the halfway point of their six-game road trip, which continues Thursday against the Edmonton Oilers.
“Overall, we’ve been playing pretty good hockey lately,” Anderson said. “Even when we were losing, we were right there, a shootout loss, we lost by a goal here and there. A bounce here or a bounce there, one less mistake, and those games are wins or points for us.”
Tom Kostopoulos scored the lone goal for Calgary (7-9-1). The Flames had won eight of their previous nine meetings with Ottawa dating back to 2004.
“It’s tough league to score goals, a tough league to win in, you’ve got to be able to win the tight games 2-1,1-0,” said Flames forward Olli Jokinen. “You can’t get frustrated and get into your own program that oh, I’ve got to score three goals next game. It’s not going to work that way, you have to play for the team and goals will come.”
The Flames continue to struggle at home where they’ve won just twice in their last seven games. They host the Chicago Blackhawks on Friday night.
“We have to get on a bit of a roll. We have to be really sharp and really strong with our details,” Giordano said. “I thought we played well but a mistake by myself there and a couple breakdowns cost us a couple goals in the third.”
Kiprusoff had 29 saves for the Flames.
Ottawa opened the scoring at 18:44 of the second period.
When Jarome Iginla couldn’t get the puck past Nick Foligno along the side boards, Foligno burst back into the Flames’ end on the transition and sent a pass to Alfredsson driving to the slot, who snapped a shot into the top corner for his fifth goal.
Kostopoulos tied it a minute later deflecting in Matt Stajan’s centring pass.
It was another miserable night for the Flames’ struggling power play unit. Calgary went 0-for-6 with the man advantage to fall to an NHL worst 2-for-40 on home ice. During the 64 second two-man advantage, they failed to record a shot on goal.
“We moved the puck better and wegot more scoring chances but bottom line, we have to find a way to put one in,” Giordano said.
Ottawa was 0-for-4 with the power play.
Notes: Calgary LW David Moss (lower body) did not play, which opened up a spot in the line-up for Stajan, who was a healthy scratch the past two games. … Iginla, Bourque, and Glencross share the team lead with five goals. Last place Columbus is the only other NHL team without a player with greater than five goals. … The last time Ottawa scored greater than three goals against the Flames was in a 4-4 tie on Nov. 22, 2001. That was also the last time Alfredsson had scored against Calgary, having been blanked in the 10 games since, the second longest drought against any NHL opponent. Alfredsson has not scored in his last 12 games against New Jersey.