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Craig Anderson is 'wall' for Senators in Game 6

Makes 37 saves, including 14 in third period, to help eliminate Rangers

by Mike G. Morreale @mikemorrealeNHL / NHL.com Staff Writer

NEW YORK -- Ottawa Senators coach Guy Boucher felt goaltender Craig Anderson had at least one more big performance in him prior to the conclusion of the Eastern Conference Second Round against the New York Rangers.

He was right.

Anderson's 37-save performance in a 4-2 win to eliminate the Rangers in Game 6 at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday might have been his signature performance of the best-of-7 series.

 

[RELATED: Complete Senators vs. Rangers series coverage]

 

The Senators won the series 4-2 to advance to the Eastern Conference Final for the first time since 2007.

"I felt [Anderson] was good in Game 1 (34 saves in a 2-1 win) but felt he was going to be the guy [Tuesday], he was going to be a wall, and that's exactly what he was," Boucher said.

Anderson delivered for the Senators and denied the Rangers at a time when he was needed most, particularly in the third period on 14 saves when New York pressed for the equalizer before Jean-Gabriel Pageau scored into an empty net with seven seconds remaining to secure the victory.

Video: OTT@NYR, Gm6: Anderson shuts down Zuccarello with pad

"They had a huge push at the start of the third period, and [Anderson] makes four or five huge saves to keep the (3-2) lead," Senators forward Mark Stone said. "That could be the difference in the series; just getting that one huge performance from him might have sealed the deal for us."

It was another business-as-usual approach for Anderson, who made it a point to credit his teammates for blocking 20 shots.

"It's huge to see that effort; it elevates your game knowing that these guys are battling and they are paying the price," Anderson said. "In the first period when [Bobby Ryan] laid down there, when [Stone] laid down, words can't express my thoughts. You know your guys are battling and everyone works a little harder for each other when guys do that type of play."

Ryan finished with three blocked shots, including diving back-to-back blocks against Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh six seconds apart midway through the first period.

"We've tried to be good in front of him all year, we've tried to take a little bit of the workload, and it hasn't always been the case," Ryan said. "Those [McDonagh shots] are two point-blanks right down the middle if we don't get someone in front of them. You always want to reward him because you know he's back there, he's going to make that first save and bail you out numerous times.

"He did it in the third period, so to take a little bit off of him means a lot to all of us."

Anderson stopped all nine shots he faced during four power-play opportunities for the Rangers, had the secondary assist on the decisive goal by captain Erik Karlsson in the second period, and made the big saves in the final five minutes of the third with the Senators clinging to a 3-2 lead.

Never did he appear rattled at any point in the game.

Video: OTT@NYR, Gm6: Anderson shrugs off Stepan's chance

"They came at us extremely hard and he definitely held the fort," Boucher said. "They had that desperation with all that speed and (the) energy in the building."

Anderson is 8-4 with a 2.49 goals-against average and .914 save percentage in 12 Stanley Cup Playoff games, winning series against Henrik Lundqvist of the Rangers and Tuukka Rask of the Boston Bruins, each a Vezina Trophy winner.

What has made Anderson's run even more remarkable is that he's done it after his wife, Nicholle, was diagnosed with a rare form of throat cancer in October. A finalist for the 2017 Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, Anderson left the Senators in early December to be at his wife's side while she was being treated in New York before returning to the Ottawa net on Feb. 11.

"It's just a great end to the series with him playing that well in such a difficult environment with what he's lived through this year," Boucher said. "He's done that all year under difficult circumstances, was able to tune everything out and do the job."

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