Craig Anderson gives performance to be proud of in Game 4

Craig Anderson posted a shutout and Bobby Ryan scored the lone goal of the game to get the Senators a 1-0 win and 3-1 series lead over the Bruins.

BOSTON — Craig Anderson had already stopped Brad Marchand on one breakaway — it was the first shot he saw all night, in fact.

And so, when a second chance came not long after for the guy who scored 39 times in the regular season, Anderson had one thought.

“Johnny Bower,” the Ottawa Senators goalie said, with a huge grin, after his team’s 1-0 win on Wednesday.

A story Anderson heard from the four-time Stanley Cup winner back when he played junior explains why Anderson came way out of his net, and when Marchand had his head down, cutting to the middle, Anderson splayed out and poke-checked the puck away, just as Bower told him he’d done once when he was scared on a breakaway.

“I was nervous,” Anderson said. “I’m just glad it worked out.”

It sure did.

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Anderson was spectacular, making 22 saves and pitching a shutout in Game 4, leading the Senators to a third straight win over the Bruins, and a second straight victory at TD Garden to give Ottawa a commanding 3-1 lead in the series.

Captain Erik Karlsson was his usual ridiculous self, Bobby Ryan scored another winner, the Bruins scored one that didn’t count, and now the Senators head home with one win to go and three more chances to get it.

“We made the plays when we needed to, and we stuck with it, and obviously Andy played huge for us in net, he really kept us in it going into the third,” said Karlsson, who had his fifth assist of the series. “Andy was a rock for us, and probably stole this one for us.”

After a scoreless two periods, Ryan struck just under six minutes into the third, deflating this crowd of 17,565, which included Gord Downie, Denna Laing, Mel Gibson and Bobby Orr.

The goal came on account of a beautiful Karlsson pass, which is becoming a customary signature of every game in this series. So, too, is the praise for him that follows every game.

“He’s our best player and arguably the best player in the world,” Ryan said.

Added head coach, Guy Boucher: “This guy has become something else in every aspect.”

On the goal, Karlsson pulled back his stick like he was going to take a slapshot from the point, but then he slapped a pass to Ryan, on the off post. Ryan, the overtime hero a night earlier in this building, handled it, and after a couple whacks he used his long stick to jam it in the net, while goalie Tuukka Rask and captain Zdeno Chara sprawled after it.

Chara was lying partly in the net, face down, after the puck went in.

“Just the perfect pass,” Ryan said. He’d almost given up on the chance that puck was headed his direction, too, and charged toward the net to put up a screen. “Karl’s got that ability to kind of steer guys with his eyes, and I think he did that a little bit, he opened up five feet for me in there by waiting, waiting, waiting…

“I got lucky that I stayed, because he put it right on my stick. It was an easy play for me.”

Well, kind of. Ryan uses a longer than usual stick (his explanation, with a smile: “Something’s gotta make up for slow feet,”) and he needed all of it to stretch and bang that puck in.

“I was as relieved as anybody that it crossed the line, just barely,” Ryan said.

The Bruins had their chances, but it seemed nothing was going right, aside from the play of Rask, who was spectacular, with 26 saves. Boston got a penalty for too many men with 4:10 to go.

Late in the game, with Rask out of his net — and a whistle break that featured the appropriately selected tune, “Livin’ on a Prayer” — Marchand had a great chance on a rebound from the side of the net, but Anderson reached back to shut the door. Again.

Then Marchand looked up at the ceiling, which pretty much explained his night. He had six shots, and two breakaways, but couldn’t buy one. Asked if he was feeling frustrated after the game, Marchand’s response was: “Yep, what about it?”

“It’s frustrating when I had two Grade A chances, and should have capitalized on at least one of them,” he said. “So that’s tough.”

With good goaltending at both ends, Ryan figured his goal would stand up as the winner. “Tonight was one of those games, just felt like there was going to be one goal all night long, and when I got it, I felt like we could lock it down,” he said.

There were two goals, though. Sort of. The Bruins’ goal — called back, thanks to an offside review — came thanks in large part to rookie defenceman Charlie McAvoy, who made his NHL debut in these playoffs, and had a few good chances.

Centreman Riley Nash bounced a pass off the boards to McAvoy at the blue line, and his slapshot was redirected by Noel Acciari and past Anderson. The 19-year-old McAvoy celebrated with a small fist-pump — the kid acts like he’s been here before.

The late offside call prompted stick taps from Senators forwards Mark Stone and Derick Brassard, and boos and chants of “Bulls—!” from the crowd.

So, through 15 shots, Anderson remained perfect.

He was stellar early, and had to be. The first shot he faced Wednesday came when the puck hopped over Karlsson’s stick, sending Marchand on his first breakaway of the game, but the Senators goalie shut the door on the five-hole attempt.

Despite outshooting Boston 14-12 in the first, it was the Bruins who had more scoring chances.

“[Anderson] made some really huge stops for us when we needed him to, when we really weren’t there for him,” Karlsson said. “That’s what we need.”

In interviews following the morning skate on Wednesday, Anderson gave a bunch of one-word answers and he blinked a lot, and then he walked away. Who knows what was bugging him, but clearly whatever he was feeling didn’t hurt him on the ice.

“It’s one of those things where, we’re people too, we can have mood swings. This morning I just wasn’t feeling it, so I apologize,” Anderson said. “That’s not a habit. That’s not one I want to be proud of.”

That Game 4 performance, on the other hand, is a different story.

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