OTTAWA - Craig Anderson has been here before.
The goaltender got his first taste of the NHL playoffs in 2010, backstopping the No.8-seeded Colorado Avalanche against the heavily-favoured Sharks.
He came out on the losing end of that six-game set, but not before a career-making 51-save performance in Game 3 of the series, a 1-0 overtime win for Avalanche.
"I learned a lot in that series and I can use that going forward here," said Anderson. "It was an unreal event, just the feeling we had as a team and as a group... We gave up (51 shots), obviously we got outshot, but the end result was what we wanted and that's all that matters come playoff time. It doesn't matter if it's a goalie, a forward, a defenceman. You don't know which player is going to step up and be the difference-maker."
Anderson, who missed a month with a hand injury, said getting back between the pipes for the stretch drive was key to recapturing his conditioning, focus and timing.
"I wanted to get back to where I was before the injury and give the team a chance to win every night, every game that I'm in there. That's my goal, to make the next save for the guys and give the guys the confidence that they can play loose and not play so uptight that they can't make a mistake. Everyone's going to make mistakes and I want to make sure I'm there to back them up when they do make a mistake so they can go out there and continue to play with confidence."
That's exactly what his counterpart, Henrik Lundqvist, has done all season for the Rangers.
"Lundqvist is a top-tier goaltender in this league, and he's been their backbone the whole season," said Anderson. "He's been the guy they've relied on and he gives them an opportunity to win every night. My goal is just to equal him or better him and give my team a chance to win.
"I'm not going to be shooting pucks on him, he's not going to be shooting pucks on me, but at the end of the day we're each trying to give our team a chance to win, and that's all you can really do in a goalie matchup."
Anderson said he's up for the challenge.
"I've been here before, the nerves aren't like they were before," he said. "I remember my first (playoff experience) going in and not really knowing what was out there for me. We had a lot of young guys, but we had leadership in that (Avalanche) room then and we have leadership in this room now to light the path through the playoffs."