The Ottawa Senators truly did not deserve to go to overtime with the Pittsburgh Penguins. There is no reason to think that they would have, watching most of the game, which was at times very one-sided.
Pittsburgh had most of the action in the Senators’ zone, continually putting on pressure, causing turnovers, chipping pucks by pinching Senator D-men to create breakaways and odd-man rushes in the other direction. It was inevitable that they would eventually break through and score at long last.
This was a low-scoring game, mostly thanks to the efforts of Craig Anderson. Although Marc-Andre Fleury did make the best save I have seen this year on Erik Karlsson about halfway through the third period, Anderson was clearly the better goalie.
To think that he was able to stop 46-of-48 shots on net against the most offensively potent team in the league is stunning. To say that he shattered expectations would be an understatement. The fact that James Neal was able to beat him in overtime to win the game should not reflect badly on his overall performance.
The sad reality is that a game your team loses is quickly forgotten. However, Anderson did steal them a point that they had no business getting. Considering how close they are to the final playoff spot, that point may prove to be quite important.
Anderson’s value to this team was definitely demonstrated tonight. He is a leader for this team; he plays calmly but aggressively in net, and he does not back down from any challenges. He is an asset for this team, and he is warming up at the right time, as his stats are not yet where they need to be at this point (3.04 GAA, .908 save percentage).
As excited as Ottawa fans are about the upside of Robin Lehner, whose numbers are better, though in a smaller sample size, I still think that the homestretch and a playoff run often call for a veteran presence like Craig Anderson.