OTTAWA -- Ottawa Senators forward Bobby Ryan was correct.
"[Craig Anderson] won us the game," Ryan said after the Senators defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins 2-1 on Tuesday behind 45 saves from Anderson to force Game 7 in the Eastern Conference Final. "But we found a way to contribute on that power play, and it's huge."
[RELATED: Complete Senators vs. Penguins series coverage | Anderson saves Senators season in Game 6 win against Penguins]
Not only did the Senators score a power-play goal for the first time in 11 games, they stopped the Penguins on their three man-advantage opportunities, holding them without a power-play goal for the first time since Game 3.
The Senators were waiting for their special teams to come through and help them win a game. It happened at the most opportune time, with their backs against the wall, facing elimination at Canadian Tire Centre.
"It's the difference," Ryan said.
It was because the Senators played different on special teams, way different, in fact, than they had the previous two games.
Ryan scored the 5-on-3 power-play goal at 13:15 of the second period because the Senators finally gained the zone cleanly and were able to set up what they wanted to do on the power play.
Video: PIT@OTT, Gm6: Ryan sweeps in one-timer for PPG
Yes, it was a two-man advantage, caused by Pittsburgh defensemen Ron Hainsey (interference) and Ian Cole (high sticking) going to the box 36 seconds apart, but Ottawa was struggling so badly on the power play, 0-for-29 in its previous 10 games coming into Game 6, that even a 5-on-3 was no sure thing.
However, defenseman Erik Karlsson and center Kyle Turris each passed up a shot at the point so they could set up a play that got the Penguins moving and Ryan open for a one-timer from the lower part of the left circle.
"Karl and Turris both had better shots than I did," Ryan said. "It's amazing what not holding on to the puck will do. You just try to find a lane, try and find something."
Ryan called it "a lucky goal," but it was hardly that. It was a one-timer that beat Penguins goalie Matt Murray on the short side.
"To see it go in, I think we -- we in the Sens' community -- took a collective breath there because it was overdue," Ryan said.
The Senators had to kill off two Penguins power plays in the first period just to get out of the first 20 minutes tied 0-0. They did by playing better in front of Anderson than they had in the previous two games, when they allowed four power-play goals on five chances, including three on three chances in Game 5.
"The puck was on our stick, we got clears, had some big blocks," Anderson said. "I thought we tied up sticks better in front than we did in the last game."
Video: PIT@OTT, Gm6: Anderson slides across to rob Crosby
They could do that, defenseman Marc Methot said, because they were more positionally sound in their defensive structure, both in the neutral zone to stymie Pittsburgh's zone entries and in the defensive zone when the Penguins did manage to get the puck in.
"We weren't running around," Methot said. "We were in our spots, in the lane, and when you're in those shooting lanes and discouraging them from taking those shots, you're doing yourselves a huge favor.
"We just have to keep doing that and we can't change our game going into their building."
Game 7 is at Pittsburgh on Thursday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports).