EDMONTON -- On an emotional night at Rogers Place, the Ottawa Senators rallied around goaltender Craig Anderson on Sunday.
In his first game back from a leave of absence to be with his wife Nicholle, who was recently diagnosed with cancer, Anderson made 37 saves to lead the Senators to a 2-0 win against the Edmonton Oilers.
"He's a huge part of this team and for him to come back and stand on his head like that, at the end of the day, we're a family in here and there's nothing more that we could have done than play like we did tonight and play for him," said Senators forward Mike Hoffman, who scored 12:18 into the second period. "Before the game, we all wanted to play for him and do everything that we can. It's obviously a tough situation that they're going through now and for him to go out there and do that, and for him to stand on his head, we really respect that."
Video: OTT@EDM: Anderson shuts out Oilers in return
Anderson left the Senators on Thursday to be with his family in Florida. He made 22 saves in a 3-0 win at the Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday. He has not allowed a goal in 121 minutes and 57 seconds.
Anderson returned to the Senators after goaltender Andrew Hammond sustained a lower-body injury in a 5-2 loss at the Calgary Flames on Friday.
"Obviously there is a big black cloud there, but you try not to poke it, to touch at it too much," Senators captain Erik Karlsson said. "It's up to him whether he wants to talk about it or not. It will be on their [family's] terms."
Anderson was named First Star for his performance against the Oilers and was visibly emotional when he came out to salute the crowd after the game.
Oilers goalie Cam Talbot, who made 20 saves and was named the game's Second Star, waited for Anderson at the bench to express his support for the fellow goaltender.
"The hockey community is a big one and, you knew those guys were going to rally around him in a game like that," Talbot said. "It was an emotional game and we knew they were going to play hard tonight. They played a heck of a game, and he played a [heck] of a game himself. I can't even imagine what was going through his mind. I don't know if I would be able to do what he just did right now. We send our thoughts and prayers to him and his family."
Video: OTT@EDM: Senators rally around Anderson after shutout
Anderson did not speak with the media after the game.
Senators coach Guy Boucher became emotional discussing his goaltender's performance.
"That was very special. I think it was special for our goaltender and his family, his wife, our players and I really respected the fact the Oilers organization, their players and their fans showed a lot of respect and support," Boucher said. "We love hockey, it's a great game, but there are things that are bigger and I think there's a lot of people that showed that tonight.
"When you look at this game, obviously, the players want to play for Craig and his family. The players wanted to defend so well, that was the whole mindset. You could hear offensive players on the bench talk about defending and playing the price and making sure we weren't giving any freebees. As the game went on, you were watching Craig and you couldn't help but be inspired by him."