The New York Islanders couldn't solve Craig Anderson on Saturday afternoon, as they were shut out by the Ottawa Senators 3-0 at Canadian Tire Centre.
The Islanders outshot the Senators 33-24 on Saturday, but Anderson stopped them all in his first start game since Dec. 5, as he's been taking care of his wife Nicholle, who was recently diagnosed with cancer. Mark Stone, Zack Smith and Jean-Gabriel Pageau scored for the Senators, who halted the Islanders' two-game winning streak and three-game point streak (2-0-1).
"It's a difficult situation and you know they are going to rally behind him and the fans are behind him, but he answered the bell and played great today," Interim Coach Doug Weight said of Anderson. "We never want to lose or be shut out, but good for him."
Anderson was the difference in a game that the Islanders felt they may have been the better team.
"I thought we were the better team," John Tavares said. "I thought we generated more chances, but just weren't as good in front of the net as we have been. Anderson was obviously sharp, he controlled the rebounds really well and when you see that, we have to find a way to get in front and find a way to create second and third opportunities."
The Islanders started with some jump, peppering Anderson for four shots in the opening 90 seconds, but it would be Ottawa who struck first on a fluky first period goal by Stone. Erik Karlsson's shot hit the end boards and bounced right to Stone circling around the net and the Senators forward immediately banked it off Thomas Greiss from below the goal line to put Ottawa up 1-0 at 4:10.
Video: NYI Recap: Islanders can't solve Anderson in 3-0 loss
Prolonged offensive zone time for the Islanders limited the Senators to five shots in the second period, but a pair of breakdowns resulted in a pair of Ottawa goals. Zack Smith found a soft spot in the slot, took a pass from Kyle Turris, pulled the puck across a sliding Greiss and roofed a backhand to make it 2-0 at 4:35 of the second.
Less than three minutes later, the Senators took advantage of another Islanders breakdown, as Jean-Gabriel Pageau deflected home a Tom Pyatt feed on a two-on-one rush at 7:12. Pageau's goal followed up an aggressive Senators' penalty kill, which pressured the Islanders in their own zone for most of the latter half of the Isles power play.
"They were more opportunistic than us tonight," Josh Bailey said.
The 3-0 third period deficit proved to be too much on Saturday, as the Senators clamped down defensively. Anderson stopped all nine Islanders' shots in the third period and Ottawa was more than content to ride it out, putting six shots on Greiss in the third period.
"Anderson was good when he had to be and we just got beat," Weight said. "They outplayed us today. We did outshot them and probably had a few more chances than they did, but I think they outplayed us in the key areas a bit."
The loss was the Islanders' first to a playoff team in seven games (previously 6-0-0) and only the second regulation loss under Weight. (7-2-2). The Islanders have lost two straight games to the Senators this season, both in regulation.
The Islanders return home on Sunday evening, as they host the Colorado Avalanche at 6 p.m.