OTTAWA -- The Ottawa Senators awarded the game puck to Nicholle Anderson, wife of Senators goaltender Craig Anderson, after an emotional 2-0 victory at the Edmonton Oilers on Sunday.
Coach Guy Boucher and the Senators recounted an emotional scene in the dressing room at Rogers Place after Anderson had a 37-save shutout in his return after a one-game leave of absence following his wife's cancer diagnosis. They gave the puck to Anderson to give to his wife.
Nicholle Anderson told her husband to rejoin the Senators after backup goaltender Andrew Hammond was injured in a 5-2 loss at the Calgary Flames on Friday. Anderson, who had a 22-save shutout in a 2-0 win at the Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday, had left the Senators the next day.
"Words can't describe it. It was Game 8 of a season, but I know it's something I know I won't forget in my hockey career," Senators forward Chris Kelly said of the atmosphere in the dressing room after the game.
"We gave him the puck to give to his wife," Boucher said Tuesday, "because definitely she was the one that has the biggest battle and she was the one who told her husband, 'You've got to go here,' and it freed him to be able to come and get as free of a mind as you can get to focus on a game."
Captain Erik Karlsson said the players had done a good job focusing on the game, but when it was over, the impact of the situation hit home.
"Very emotional. Very emotional. That's when everything kind of all let down," Karlsson said. "We all knew what was going on. Craig came in a day early and we didn't really touch on it before the game. Once the game finished, with the result we had and the performance we had from [Anderson] and from everybody this team, everybody let their guard down and it was very tough.
"It was very emotional, but I think it was something that was necessary to do, and you could really see how much everybody in here cares for each other and especially for Andy."
Boucher said the Senators clearly were playing for their teammate against the Oilers. Ottawa had outshot its opponents in five of the previous six games, but wound up being outshot 37-22 by Edmonton.
"I thought their attitude was unbelievable," Boucher said. "We attacked less than all the other games. We had outshot and outchanced most of the other teams we had played lately. In that particularly case I didn't push too much for offense, because they were so focused on defending for our goaltender. We gave a lot of shots from the outside because the guys were really trying to be inside for our goalie, so I wasn't going to mess that up."