Anderson blanks Oilers in emotional return

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[November 01, 2016]  EDMONTON, Alberta -- The Ottawa Senators wanted to deliver a huge emotional victory for goaltender Craig Anderson.

Instead, it was the other way around.

Anderson, rejoining the team after his wife had been diagnosed with cancer, stepped up and stole a 2-0 victory over the high-scoring Edmonton Oilers on Sunday night at Rogers Arena.

"We couldn't really feel the gravity until the final whistle," said Senators captain Erik Karlsson of Anderson. "He held a strong face but you could still see the pain in his eyes. And he came in here and led by example. He didn't say much, had the same routine, and showed what a true leader he is.

"He did a hell of a game and got us two points."

After returning home to Ottawa from a road trip last week to be with his wife Nicholle, Anderson flew back west Sunday when backup Andrew Hammond suffered a lower-body injury Friday in Calgary.

It was an incredibly selfless move that resonated with the team. And it was more than just an emotional lift. Anderson had a stellar night for the Senators, stopping 37 shots in the victory.

"It was an emotional night for us as a team," said Ottawa forward Bobby Ryan. "Rightfully so that he should be emotional at the end, because the room was as well. The way he held it for 60 minutes and got through it speaks to his character. That was the quietest I've ever heard a room after a win. What Andy did tonight was pretty incredible."

Center Mike Hoffman gave the Senators a 1-0 lead at 12:18 of the second period, marking just the second goal that Oilers goalie Cam Talbot had allowed in 248 minutes.

It stood up as the winner. Ryan scored the insurance marker into an empty net.

Anderson also posted a 22-save shutout in the first game of the road trip Tuesday in Vancouver before flying back home.

"Pretty emotional night with everything that's been going on with this group," said Hoffman. "Coming in here and facing one of the best teams in the league was a big task for us. We all wanted to play for him do everything we could. It's a tough situation for them.

"He's a huge part of this team and for him to come in here and stand on his head like that ... we're a family."

The win capped a 2-1 road trip for the Senators and improved their record to 5-3. The Oilers, who came into the game looking to strengthen their grip on first place in the Western Conference with a sixth consecutive victory, instead fell to 7-2-0 as they head out for a five game road trip.

The Oilers had plenty of chances to pull ahead, especially in the first period when they had three straight power plays and held Ottawa to four shots, but they couldn't get anything done.

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Senators goaltender Craig Anderson (41) makes a save during warmup against the Edmonton Oilers at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

"We had trouble around our blue line turning pucks over," said Edmonton right winger Jordan Eberle. "They play a different system that we knew was there, we just couldn't get around it. I liked our push-back at the end, but we just needed a little more finish around the net. That would have gone a long way. They do a good job of keeping you to the outside."

Talbot, the game's second star, stayed on the Edmonton bench after skating his loop to applaud Anderson, the game's first star.

"Him being able to play the way he did under those circumstances, you have to give him so much credit, it's an unthinkable situation," Talbot said, adding the Oilers knew the Senators would be a tough out given the situation.

"The hockey community is a big one and, you knew those guys were going to rally around him in a game like that. It was an emotional game and we knew they were going to play hard tonight.

"They played a heck of a game, and he played a hell of a game himself. I can't even imagine what was going through his mind. I don't know if I would be able to do what he just did right now. We sent our thoughts and prayers to him and his family."

NOTES: Before Sunday the Oilers had trailed since the second period of their 3-1 win over St. Louis, a run of 213 minutes, 39 seconds. ... The Senators lost backup Andrew Hammond on Friday to what the club is calling a lower-body injury in the first period of their 5-2 loss in Calgary, so they've called up rookie G Chris Driedger to back up Craig Anderson, who returned to the team at the urging of his wife Nicholle, who was recently diagnosed with cancer. ... Sens LW Clarke MacArthur is skating and hopes to return this season after suffering a concussion in training camp (the fourth of his career). ... Sens C Curtis Lazar, who played Junior hockey in Edmonton, is in the AHL as he fights his way back from a case of mononucleosis. ... Oilers G Cam Talbot is tied for the NHL lead in starts by a goalie with nine. He's played every game of the season so far for Edmonton. He's posted two shutouts in his last three games.

[ 2016 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.]

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