The Ottawa Senators rode the hot goaltending of Craig Anderson, and the sudden emergence of Jason Spezza’s offensive game to a 2-0 win Saturday night, and are now one win away from upsetting the top seeded New York Rangers.
Coming into game five the Senators had not played with the lead for even one second in the series despite winning two games.
That all changed when Jason Spezza converted a nice feed from 19-year-old Mark Stone, who was playing his first NHL game, just over nine minutes into the first period.
The goal was Spezza’s first of the playoffs, and the assist was the first point of Stone’s very young NHL career.
That was all the offense that Ottawa would need as Craig Anderson was nothing short of sensational in the game, stopping all 41 shots the Rangers sent his way, and recorded the first playoff shutout of his NHL career.
The 41 stops Anderson made are the most by any Ottawa Senators goaltender for a playoff shutout in the franchise’s 20 year history.
Anderson has been in shutdown mode since he allowed four goals in game one. In the four subsequent games, the Senators goalie has only allowed five goals and currently sports a 1.79 goals against average with a .943 save percentage in the series. He has given his teammates the confidence to just play their game. They know that their goaltender is going to have their backs if they make a mistake which is something Ottawa has not always had throughout their history.
Chris Neil was the centre of controversy when he leveled Brian Boyle with an open ice hit in the third period. Boyle continued playing for a short time, and then left the game with an apparent concussion.
After the game, Rangers coach John Tortorella called the hit dirty, and compared Neil to Raffi Torres although it did not appear that the hit was late, Neil did not leave his feet, and while he did strike Boyle in the head it was due to the fact that Boyle was bent over in the act of taking a shot.
I expect Brendan Shanahan to look at the hit, but I would be surprised if he suspended Neil, who has never been disciplined in his NHL career. I’m sure that if any of the Rangers feel the need to get retribution Mr. Neil will gladly engage them in a fight.
Game six will go Monday in Ottawa when the Senators will attempt to close out the series.