When the Ottawa Senators defeated the Montreal Canadiens in five games back in the 2013 playoffs, goaltender Craig Anderson played a big role. Could he top that in their current first round series?
He’s certainly giving Montreal a reason to be concerned as he turned aside 45 of 46 shots in Ottawa’s 5-1 victory Friday night. This is the second straight time that Anderson has thwarted the Canadiens’ attempt to advance as he also earned a 28-save shutout in Game 4.
Anderson first came into the series for Game 3 and nearly kept the Senators from falling behind 3-0 in the series by kicking out 47 of 49 shots in that contest.
If there was one big difference between this contest and Anderson’s previous efforts though, it’s that Ottawa was able to provide him with plenty of support. Bobby Ryan ended his 16-game goal scoring slump while captain Erik Karlsson and forward Erik Condra each found the back of the net for the first time in this series. However, it was 24-year-old Patrick Wiercioch that netted what proved to be the game winner:
The one major setback for Ottawa was that Clarke MacArthur sustained a lower-body injury and didn’t play in the third period as a result.
That obviously hurts the Senators, but they now have the momentum and the series is heading back to Ottawa. Montreal won’t have much time to regroup as Game 6 is set for 6:00 p.m. ET on Sunday.
Click here for playoff highlight videos
Bobby Ryan will begin a seven-year, $50.75 million contract with the Ottawa Senators next season and he’s given them some cause for concern. The four time 30-plus goal scorer is coming off of a lukewarm regular season where he managed just 18 markers in 78 contests. He was also quiet the opening four games of Ottawa’s first round series against Montreal.
The 28-year-old ended a 16-game goal scoring drought tonight though with a nice shot through traffic that found its way past Canadiens goaltender Carey Price:
Montreal jumped ahead 3-0 in this series. Ottawa stayed alive with a 28-save shutout from goaltender Craig Anderson in Game 4, but the Senators clearly need others to step up as well if they are going to dig themselves out of this sizable hole. Ryan breaking out at this stage would be a big boost for them when they need it the most.
Out with the old, in with the new.
That’s the strategy Ottawa will employ this evening as it looks to win its second consecutive game against Montreal and keep the series (currently 3-1 in favor of the Habs) alive — veteran Chris Neil, who played in Games 3 and 4, will be dropped from the lineup in favor of Alex Chiasson, who hasn’t played since Game 2.
Neil, 35, was a non-factor in each of the last two outings, and only played 6:06 in Game 4.
Chiasson, 24, fits with the youth movement that head coach Dave Cameron implemented upon taking the gig from Paul MacLean, and continues to push today; only two Senators in the lineup tonight are over the age of 30 (winger Milan Michalek and goalie Craig Anderson).
Meanwhile, the likes of Curtis Lazar (19 years old), Cody Ceci (21), Mika Zibanejad (21), Jean-Gabriel Pageau (22) and Calder nominee Mark Stone (22) continue to see significant minutes.
The benefit of being a Cinderella Story is that you get very familiar playing in must-win games. Ottawa needed to go on an incredible 21-3-3 just to make the playoffs. Compared to that a four-game winning streak doesn’t sound so daunting. The Seantors were down 3-0 in the first round going into tonight’s contest, but they stayed alive for at least one more game by earning a 1-0 victory over Montreal tonight.
As has been the case so often for Ottawa in recent months, goaltending was the story. Craig Anderson, who had lost the starting gig to Andrew Hammond by the end of the season, got the nod for the second straight game and turned aside 28 shots to earn his third career playoff shutout.
His efforts proved critical as netminder Carey Price and the Canadiens were very effective at shutting down the Senators. Two of Ottawa’s top forwards, Kyle Turris and Bobby Ryan, were once again held off the scoresheet in this first round series. Not that they were alone in that tonight as 25-year-old rookie Mike Hoffman accounted for the game’s only goal:
Of course a team winning Game 4 after falling behind 3-0 isn’t unheard of, but actually pulling off a reverse sweep is a very rare feat. Ottawa will have another must-win game on Friday.
Trailing 3-0 and facing elimination, the Ottawa Senators will go back to their veteran netminder tonight at home versus Montreal.
Coach Dave Cameron confirmed this morning that Craig Anderson would get the start over rookie Andrew Hammond.
“He has a proven playoff record of being a real good goalie,” Cameron told reporters.
Anderson stopped all but two of the Canadiens’ 49 shots in Sunday’s 2-1 overtime loss — a defeat that put the Sens on the verge of being swept.
As noted by his coach, the 33-year-old has been a solid playoff performer, registering a career postseason save percentage of .928 in 25 appearances. Among active goalies who’ve started more than 10 playoff games, only Mike Smith, Jonas Hiller, Braden Holtby, and Tuukka Rask have a higher save percentage than that.