After a tumultuous 36 hours, Craig Anderson did his best to re-energized his new team.
The goaltender made 47 saves in regulation and overtime before going perfect in the shootout as the Ottawa Senators picked up just their second win in 15 games Saturday, 1-0 over the Toronto Maple Leafs.
The Senatorss acquired Anderson from Colorado for fellow netminder Brian Elliott on Friday and he arrived just in time to watch his new team fall 4-2 to Boston.
He got the start Saturday and didn’t disappoint.
“The emotions are huge, they’re running (high),” Anderson said after registering his first shutout in nearly a year. “I leave a team where I battled for two years … it’s tough to do that. But there’s 20 new guys in here that are great guys, that I’m ready to learn with and get to know and grow with.
“What it’s about here is growing together as a team and finding a way to make 20 new friends here like I did in Colorado.”
He was a popular man after singlehandedly getting Ottawa just its second win in 15 games. Anderson’s nicest stop came in overtime when he got a pad on a Phil Kessel chance that had the Leafs sniper burying his head in frustration on the bench.
Ottawa’s Jason Spezza scored the only goal in the shootout as the team earned its first victory after regulation this season. All it took was a new face.
“He was in the zone all night,” Spezza said of Anderson. “He just looked solid and we’re happy to have him.”
Elsewhere in the NHL it was: Vancouver 5, Dallas 2; Edmonton 5, Atlanta 3; New Jersey 4, Carolina 1; N.Y. Islander 3, Los Angeles 0; Phoenix 3, Nashville 2; Florida 3, Tampa Bay 2 (SO); St. Louis 9, Anaheim 3; and San Jose 4, Colorado 0.
At Toronto, the next month and a half represents a major opportunity for the 29-year-old Anderson. After struggling to live up to a sensational 2009-10 season in Colorado, the goaltender has been given a new life with unrestricted free agency on the horizon.
Not only will he get a chance to audition for the Senators, he can also showcase his talents for other teams heading into a summer that will also see the likes of Ilya Bryzgalov, Tomas Vokoun and J.S. Giguere potentially become available on July 1.
“In this game you’re always auditioning for a job,” said Anderson. “You’re only as good as your next game. Tonight I’m going to enjoy this and tomorrow maybe enjoy a little bit more on a day off, but Monday I’ll come back to work and start focusing for the next one.
“For me, you’re always playing for a contract, you’re always playing for a job.”
The night was a missed opportunity for a Maple Leafs team that continues to hold out faint hope of getting into the Eastern Conference playoff picture. With Carolina and Atlanta both losing Saturday, Toronto failed to gain much ground on two rivals and now sits seven points back of the eighth-place Hurricanes.
“It just flat out sucks,” said Leafs goalie James Reimer, who earned his second shutout of the season. “It’s not the way I wanted it to end.”
It was a pretty tame meeting between the once-heated rivals—save for a spirited fight between Jay Rosehill and Francis Lessard and a big hit by Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf on Nick Foligno—who have both seen experienced players shipped out of town in trades over the last week.
There were a combined 15 players between the teams who have spent some time in the American Hockey League this season.
“We’ve got nothing to lose out there, we’re just going out and playing,” said veteran Senators forward Chris Neil. “That’s how we’ve got to approach it. We’ve got a lot of young guys in the lineup now with the trades that have happened. We’re working hard, that’s all we can ask.”
Anderson was easily the best player on the ice.
He stopped 30 shots over the first two periods and was tested repeatedly in the third—getting a glove on a dangerous Luke Schenn chance with less than 10 minutes to play in regulation.
“It’s great for him,” said Senators coach Cory Clouston. “I’m excited for him. The guys really like the way he played obviously.”
Added Leafs coach Ron Wilson: “What I feared—Craig Anderson being excited with a change of scenery—he had a great night in a game we totally dominated.”
The Leafs went 0-for-6 with a man advantage one night after trading power-play quarterback Tomas Kaberle to Boston. Special teams had been a sore point even with the veteran defenceman in the lineup, but Toronto really struggled to create chances while playing a man up.
There will be some hope now in Ottawathat Anderson could be the team’s long-needed answer in goal. The feeling is mutual.
“I wanted to come in and make good first impression and show the guys I’m willing to work and battle for them,” said Anderson. “When they see me battling and do everything I can possibly can it’s picks their game up a little bit and they’re willing to do a little bit extra.”
At Vancouver, Daniel Sedin scored twice and added an assist to take over the NHL scoring lead and lift the Canucks over Dallas.
Sedin opened the scoring on a sharp-angle shot, and added his 32nd goal of the season 7:39 into the third period to give the Canucks a 3-1 lead.
At Edmonton, rookie Taylor Hall scored three power-play goals in the third period for his first NHL hat trick as the Oilers rallied to beat Atlanta.
At Raleigh, N.C., Dainius Zubrus scored goals in the first and third periods as surging New Jersey earned a season-best seventh straight victory by beating the Hurricanes.
At Uniondale, N.Y., Al Montoya made 35 saves in his first NHL start in nearly two years, and Matt Moulson scored twice in the Islanders’ victory over Los Angeles.
At Nashville, Tenn., Keith Yandle and Taylor Pyatt scored 58 seconds apart in the second period to lead Phoenix over the Predators.
At Tampa, Fla., Mike Santorelli tied it with three minutes left in the third period and added the lone shootout goal to lead the Panthers past the Southeast Division-leading Lightning.
At St. Louis, Chris Stewart made a two-goal debut as the Blues, energized by a pair of high-profile trades, just missed a franchise record with two goals in a seven-second span of the first period in a rout of Anaheim.
At San Jose, Calif., Devin Setoguchi recorded his first career hat trick and Ian White recorded a point in his first game with his new team as the Sharks beat Colorado.