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.
Ottawa needed a 21-3-3 run to make the playoffs and throughout that stretch, most of the praise for the Senators’ turnaround was focused on goaltender Andrew Hammond. He certainly was a big part of the their success, but he wasn’t the sole cause of that incredible run. Others stepped up for Ottawa as well during that stretch and the Senators similarly need to provide current starting goaltender Craig Anderson with more support going forward if they going to pull off a second unlikely comeback.
“We’ve kind of been a one line scoring team over the past five or six games. We need some help,” Senators forward Erik Condra said, per the Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch.
Rookie Mark Stone has three points in the playoffs, Clarke MacArthur has found the back of the net twice, and Mika Zibanejad has a goal and an assist. That covers the full range of Ottawa forwards with at least two points in the first round.
Kyle Turris, who had 35 points in 36 contests after the All-Star break, has been held off the scoresheet for two straight games. Then there’s Bobby Ryan; a 28-year-old forward with four 30-plus goal seasons on his resume and the owner of a seven-year, $50.75 million contract that kicks in next season. He doesn’t have a point yet in this series.
“(Ryan) had some poise tonight, so it was good to see,” Senators coach Dave Cameron said in defense of his player, per the team’s website.
Still, Ottawa needs more out of Ryan. The Senators have tied their future closely to him with that contract. With that in mind, he’ll be one of the key players looked at to be the hero in Game 4.
The fact that the Ottawa Senators made the playoffs at all was an incredible feat. It seems somehow appropriate that their unlikely run has been pushed to the edge of collapse under equally surprising circumstances.
While Montreal was the heavy favorite going into this series, tonight it wasn’t one of the Canadiens’ top-tier players that was the hero. It was 26-year-old Dale Weise, who scored both Montreal goals in its 2-1 overtime win Sunday night.
After dropping the first two contests, Ottawa bench boss Dave Cameron rolled the dice by starting goaltender Craig Anderson over Andrew Hammond. While Anderson had the clear edge when it came to experience, he hadn’t played since March 29 and last won on March 8. Still, for most of the contest it looked like the adjustment would pay off as Anderson stood tall. Given that he stopped 47 of 49 shots, it’s hard to peg this loss on him.
Still, Weise managed to beat him late in the third and the game-winning marker looked like one he could have and perhaps should have stopped:
Weise had just 23 goals in 258 career regular season games and another three markers in 24 playoff contests going into tonight’s action.
With that, Ottawa is now down 3-0 in the series. Against Montreal and goaltender Carey Price, the odds of the Senators battling back are remote. Then again, one could argue that the Senators were in a similar position during the regular season. They defied the odds then. Perhaps they can do so again.