Craig Anderson shuts out Oilers in emotional performance

Craig Anderson returned following his wife's cancer diagnosis and made 37 saves for his second shutout in two starts, helping the Ottawa Senators beat the Edmonton Oilers 2-0 on Sunday night.

EDMONTON — Craig Anderson‘s 35th career shutout was extra special for him and his teammates.

Anderson returned following his wife’s cancer diagnosis and made 37 saves for his second shutout in two starts, helping the Ottawa Senators beat the red-hot Edmonton Oilers 2-0 on Sunday night.

The 35-year-old goalie left the team on Thursday to be with his wife, Nicholle, but returned to start this game. With her encouragement, Anderson rejoined the team after back up Andrew Hammond went down with an injury on Friday.

“We couldn’t really feel the gravity until the final whistle,” said Ottawa captain Erik Karlsson. “We accomplished a great game, led by Andy. 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.

“We play a great game, we get paid a lot of money, but at the end of the day it’s just a sport. Life is a lot bigger than this.”

Mike Hoffman and Bobby Ryan scored for the Senators (5-3-0), who have won two of their last three.

“Pretty emotional night with everything that’s been going on with this group,” Hoffman said. “Coming in here and facing one of the best teams in the league was a big task for us. We played a solid game, and to see Andy come back and help this team out was a pretty cool story.

“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.”

Anderson was not available for comment after the game.

Oilers goalie Cam Talbot, who made 20 saves in the loss, stuck around post-game and clapped for Anderson when he was awarded 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. “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 send our thoughts and prayers to him and his family.”

The Oilers (7-2-0) had a five-game winning streak come to an end.

“We’re going to lose some games in an 82-game season,” said Oilers captain Connor McDavid. “You can’t expect to win each and every night. I thought we played well defensively and when we didn’t (Talbot) was a rock back there. We played a good game, they just got the upper hand tonight.”

There was no scoring in a rather sedate opening period, with Edmonton putting seven shots on Anderson, and the Senators taking four on Talbot.

Edmonton had a great chance seven minutes into the second period, but Anderson made a big kick save on Oilers rookie Jesse Puljujarvi.

Ottawa finally broke the deadlock 12:18 into the middle frame as Tom Pyatt was rewarded for some hard work, sending a backhand pass from behind the net in front to Hoffman, who scored his first of the season.

Anderson made another huge save midway through the third, stopping Jordan Eberle from point-blank range.

Ottawa put the game away with an empty-netter from Ryan with 32 seconds remaining.

Both teams return to action on Tuesday, as the Senators head home to face the Carolina Hurricanes and the Oilers embark on a five-game road trip, starting in Toronto.

Notes: It was the first of two meetings this season between the two teams. The next time they will meet is on January 8th in Ottawa… Edmonton’s launch to the season was its best since the 1985-86 season, when the Oilers started 8-1-0.

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