OTTAWA – Craig Anderson credited a couple bounces among his 40 saves in the Ottawa Senators’ latest win.
His play was the bright spot in a drab 2-1 victory over the Buffalo Sabres on Thursday.
“When called upon you’ve got to be there for them,” said Anderson, who earned his ninth win of the season. “(Thursday) was one of those nights where everything kind of went my way. I got the bounces. We did the little things that pay off and end up winning you the game as opposed to looking good on the scoresheet.”
Like the Senators, Anderson has had his share of struggles this season, but has looked better as of late.
“Our goaltender obviously made a conscious decision that he was going to be competitive and gave us a chance to win,” said Senators coach Paul MacLean.
MacLean has been looking for a more consistent effort from his team and with points in their last four games the Senators are finally showing signs of it.
“We’ve had a good week, but we can’t be satisfied with that,” said Anderson. “This week means nothing if we don’t continue with the progress for the next game.”
Bobby Ryan and Zack Smith scored for the Senators (13-14-6), who will look to extend their point streak Saturday against the Los Angeles Kings.
Tyler Ennis scored the lone goal for the Sabres (7-23-2). Ryan Miller faced 32 shots.
This was the second of back-to-back games between the two teams with the Sabres winning Tuesday 2-1 in a shootout.
Anderson was solid in the third with the Senators holding a 2-1 lead. He made a big save on Mark Pysyk early in the period and another on Drew Stafford late in the period to preserve the lead. He was called upon yet again in the final two minutes as Milan Michalek took a holding penalty.
“I think Anderson played well,” said Ennis. “Scoring goals is hard.”
These two teams have a history of playing a less than exciting style of hockey against one another, which could be the reason for the second smallest crowd of the season with just 15,578 on hand.
Smith realized that Thursday’s game may not have been the most exciting from a fan’s standpoint, but hoped that the win more than makes up for it.
“We’ve struggled to put wins together so when you get four games and points in all of them it’s pretty huge,” said Smith. “It’s good to get going and get the confidence up.”
The second period was a struggle for both teams. Ottawa continued to have trouble in their own end, but were fortunate as the Buffalo offence had its own problems.
Anderson was also able to make up for any glaring mistakes.
Smith’s second-period goal at the six-minute mark held up as the winner. Kyle Turris made a nice pass and Smith was the benefactor as the puck bounced off a skate to his stick and he swept it past Miller.
Ottawa nearly gave up the first goal—yet again—but caught a break when John Scott was called for goaltender interference early in the game.
The Senators managed to make the most of the opportunity and scored first as Ryan picked up his 15th of the season midway through the period. Turris made a cross-ice pass to Ryan, who was left all alone in front.
Sabres head coach Ted Nolan admitted both goals were just a matter of players breaking down for a couple of seconds.
“If you don’t turn for one split second it’s in the net, and that’s what happened.”
The Sabres made it 1-1 on a power-play wraparound goal by Ennis late in the first.
“They gave me a lot of time to walk it and take it in front,” said Ennis. “I just tried to throw it in and I got a good bounce.”
It was a special night for Ottawa native Cody Ceci, who was an emergency recall, and made his NHL debut Thursday. Ceci ended up plus-2, played 20:40 and was on the ice in the final minutes as the Senators killed a penalty.
“It was definitely a special experience,” said Ceci. “It’s always nice when the coach shows confidence in you and puts you out in the last minute. For him to pick me was pretty special so I tried to make the most of it and do my best not to let them score.”
Notes: D Joe Corvo played in his 700th NHL game and D Jared Cowen sat out the first of his two-game suspension. The Senators also recalled C Jean-Gabriel Pageau. D Marc Methot was out with the flu and LW Matt Kassian was a healthy scratch for the Senators.…The Sabres were without top-scoring C Cody Hodgson, who has an undisclosed injury. D Brayden McNabb was a healthy scratch.