SENATORS (8-4-4) at FLAMES (10-6-2)
TV: CBC, TVA SPORTS 2
CALGARY -- Goaltender Craig Anderson will earn his third straight start and fifth in the past six games as the Ottawa Senators conclude a three-game road trip through Western Canada against the Calgary Flames on Saturday.
It’s just the second time Anderson has started back-to-back-to-back games this season, but the reasoning is simple for Senators coach Paul MacLean.
“Craig’s just played very consistent goaltending for us,” he said. “He gives us a chance to win. It’s that easy.”
Anderson is 5-2-3 this season, his 2.05 goals-against average ranks seventh in the NHL and his .942 save percentage is best among goaltenders with at least 10 appearances. The 33-year-old hasn’t lost in regulation since a 2-1 defeat against the Chicago Blackhawks on Oct. 26, a 43-save effort.
He’s got the full confidence of the Senators.
“He’s been unbelievable all year,” forward Chris Neil said. “It’s not just this road trip. I think it’s nice that we do have the tandem that we do with Robin [Lehner] and Craig that you can rely on both of them. He’s given us a chance to win every night. That’s what you need from your goalies, even if you aren’t playing your best game you’re able to get points out of it. That’s key.
“I think that Anderson has solidified the No. 1. He’s our guy. But Robin does a good job of pushing him with how he’s played and how he’s performed this year.”
The Flames will counter with Karri Ramo, who is expected to make his third start since Oct. 25.
Calgary captain Mark Giordano expects a bounce-back effort out of his goaltender, who allowed four goals on 22 shots in 33:31 before giving way to Jonas Hiller in the Flames’ 6-4 win against the Florida Panthers on Nov. 8.
“He’s laid back, almost similar in demeanor to [Miikka Kiprusoff],” Giordano said. “He doesn’t let things faze him. Being a goalie, that’s what you need.
“That Florida game was really weird. There were a few bouncers that bounced everywhere. We weren’t doing a good enough job in front of him in the first two periods either. I thought he’s looked good in practice this week and I’m sure he’ll have a great game for us.”
Flames coach Bob Hartley expects much of the same.
“We can go back to the Florida game but there’s no need for me,” Hartley started. “I coached Patrick Roy and he gave a few bad ones too.
“Karri is as mentally strong as any other goalie in this league. He’s a worker. He’s focused. He’s well appreciated in the room.
“Guys went to him right after the game and even after I pulled him guys went to him and said ‘Karri, next time’. There’s no finger pointing. That’s the type of guys we have. Players and coaches, we know how dedicated he is to the success of our hockey club. He had a bad game. That’s okay. We all do. [Saturday] is another game and he’ll be sharp.”
In six appearances this season, Ramo is 2-2-1 with a 2.85 goals-against average and .901 save percentage.
Here are the projected lineups for the Senators and Flames on Saturday:
Clarke MacArthur - Kyle Turris - Alex Chiasson
Milan Michalek - Mika Zibanejad - Bobby Ryan
Mike Hoffman - Curtis Lazar - Mark Stone
Zack Smith - David Legwand - Chris Neil
Chris Phillips - Erik Karlsson
Jared Cowen - Cody Ceci
Mark Borowiecki - Eric Gryba
Scratched: Erik Condra, Patrick Wiercioch, Colin Greening
Injured: Marc Methot (back)
Curtis Glencross - Sean Monahan - David Jones
Johnny Gaudreau - Markus Granlund - Jiri Hudler
Sven Baertschi - Josh Jooris - Paul Byron
Lance Bouma - Max Reinhart - Brandon Bollig
Mark Giordano - TJ Brodie
Kris Russell - Dennis Wideman
Ladislav Smid - Deryk Engelland
Scratched: Devin Setoguchi, Brian McGrattan, Raphael Diaz
Injured: Sam Bennett (shoulder surgery), Mikael Backlund (abdomen), Joe Colborne (upper body), Matt Stajan (knee), Mason Raymond (shoulder), Michael Ferland (concussion)
Status report: The Senators will use the same lineup that took a 4-3 overtime victory over the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday…Calgary will swap Bollig in place of McGrattan against Ottawa. Ferland has been cleared from his concussion and will be reinserted into the lineup when his conditioning allows.
Who’s hot: Hoffman has goals in three straight and has six goals in his past six games. MacArthur has assists in back-to-back contests and leads the Senators in scoring with 12 points…Jones has goals in three consecutive games. Giordano has points in eight straight games, including five goals and eight assists in that span. He leads all NHL defensemen in points this season with 20.