Ottawa Senators goaltender Craig Anderson was just glad to be back around his teammates.
Anderson made his first start in 69 days and turned aside 33 shots the as the Ottawa Senators blanked the New York Islanders 3-0 on Saturday. Anderson left the club in early December to be with his wife Nicholle, who is battling cancer, and made his return to practice last week.
“It felt great. Got two points, got the win,” said Anderson. “I think it was an exciting day for myself to get back in the net and just be there for the guys and feel that camaraderie.”
The shutout was the fourth of the season in for Anderson in just 20 and the eighth of the season for the Senators. Mike Condon has the other four. The win is the second straight for Ottawa.
“I got a little luck and we got a little luck at the other end,” said Anderson. “It’s one of those nights where fate was in our favour.”
Mark Stone, Zack Smith and Jean-Gabriel Pageau scored for the Senators (29-18-6), who now have six goals in their past two games after being outscored 10-0 in their two games before that.
Thomas Greiss made 21 saves for the Islanders (24-19-10) in his eighth start in the past nine games. It was just the second regulation loss for the Islanders in their past 12 games.
“You have games like that but give credit to their goaltender. We probably could have done a better job getting more pucks toward the net but I think there’s a lot of things that we liked about our game,” islanders forward Andrew Ladd explained.
Stone opened the scoring at 4:10 of the first period as he was the benefactor of his own hard work, and a little luck.
After stealing the puck from Alan Quine in the Islanders’ zone, Stone fed Erik Karlsson who missed the net with his shot. Stone followed up behind the net, collected the puck and banked a shot from behind the goal line off Greiss and in.
The score remained 1-0 until 4:35 of the second period when Smith gave the Senators a 2-0 lead. Kyle Turris sent Smith in alone and he moved the puck from his backhand to his forehand to beat Greiss.
A little less than three minutes later Pageau put the Senators up 3-0 when he redirected a pass from Tom Pyatt past Greiss at 7:12.
“It was a great pass from Pyatt. In the defensive zone we wanted top cutoff their play and break out on the attack and that’s what Pyatt did and then he put the puck right on my stick,” said Pageau, who explained it was a solid team win that started right at the back with Anderson.
“He’s been there for us since the beginning and he’s a competitor. He’s there every shift and he gave us the big saves when we needed them and we tried to make life easier for him out there. When your goaltender comes back after a long break you want to go and be solid in front of him. I think the guys did that.”
The Islanders had two power plays in the second period and outshot the Senators 14-5 in the middle frame but they were unable to get anything past Anderson. Shot attempts in the period favoured the Islanders 31-10.
Notes- Chris Neil, Curtis Lazar and Andrew Hammond were scratches for the Senators. Cal Clutterbuck, Stephen Gionta and Scott Mayfield were the scratches for the Islandersâ€¦Senators goaltender Andrew Hammond celebrated his 29th birthday on Saturday by being placed on waiversâ€¦The Islanders are 23-5-3 this season when they score at least three goals in a game. When they don’t hit the three-goal mark however, they are just 1-14-7…The Senators are off until Tuesday when they host the Buffalo Sabres. The Islanders are home to the Colorado Avalanche Sunday.
Darren Desaulniers, The Canadian Press