NEW YORK - Craig Anderson won’t be at the NHL’s all-star weekend at Scotiabank Place, but he sure played like a star on Broadway Thursday night.
After a tough start to the season, the Senators goalie served notice he’s rounding into form at just the right time by making 34 saves in a 3-0 victory over the first-place New York Rangers.
Making his 40th appearance this season, Anderson recorded the 17th shutout of his career and the Senators’ first of the season. Jason Spezza scored twice while Milan Michalek also beat Rangers all-star goalie Henrik Lundqvist.
It was the 300th road win in Senators franchise history.
“The guys were great in front of me, cleaning up a lot of the loose ends when I was leaving stuff out there,” said Anderson, who is now 7-0-1 in his past eight games. “They were just allowing me to see the puck.
“It was just a great overall effort. We limited the odd-man rushes which was just a big key for us.”
Anderson said it was nice to finally get his first shutout of the season.
“I’ve had enough in my career that it’s not anything special, but it’s always good to get that zero out of that category,” said Anderson.
Anderson had to come up big in the third with the Rangers trying desperately to get back in it.
His best stop came on Brad Richards early in the frame with the Senators clinging to a 1-0 lead. That allowed Michalek to put it away with his 23rd of the season.
Returning after missing Thursday’s 5-1 victory in Pittsburgh, Erik Karlsson had a two-point night. He set up Michalek for his 23rd at 13:58. Spezza completed the scoring by putting it through Lundqvist’s five-hole at 15:33.
The Senators have now won three straight. But this one wasn’t easy.
“It’s a great win by the team. (The Rangers) played hard and they’re a heck of a team,” said Spezza. “They made us work for everything and they took it to us at times. We were opportunistic on our chances.
“Our compete level was strong ... They grind you down and I thought we were right there with them all night. We didn’t give up any ground and Andy played great.”
Defenceman Sergei Gonchar echoed that sentiment.
“(Anderson’s) playing great for us,” said Gonchar. “He did everything we needed to make sure we won the game.”
The Senators had no business being ahead 1-0 after 40 minutes, but they held the advantage on the strength of Anderson’s goaltending and Spezza’s 17th of the season.
Outshot 24-15 through two periods, the Senators did a better job of winning the battles in the second as Spezza opened the scoring at 8:54. Moving to the slot, he fired a bullet past a screened Lundqvist.
Spezza is now only three goals short of the 21 he scored last season and this one likely left New York players scratching their heads.
Earlier, Kyle Turris, who had one of his best outings with the Senators since being acquired from the Coyotes last month, had a great chance when he was alone on Lundqvist only to have the puck slip off his stick before he got a shot.
Early on, the Senators looked like they had spent the last 24 hours reading their press clippings. They went a full 11 minutes without so much as a shot on Lundqvist.
Anderson was there with big saves, including back-to-back stops on Derek Stepan and Marc Staal in the first.
Coach Paul MacLean was pleased with the overall effort.
“Andy played really well for us. For the most part, we kept (their chances) to one and done,” said MacLean. “I still think we played too much in our own end, but Andy was there when we needed him to make the saves.
“The team was resilient and found a way to get the lead and build on it. We stuck to it, we found a way to add to the lead and we didn’t take any penalties.”