OTTAWA – Craig Anderson refused to take credit for his 42-save shutout of the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday night. Instead, Ottawa's goaltender was quick to praise his teammates for their role in the Senators' 2-0 victory at Scotiabank Place.
"I'm just giving the team a chance to win," Anderson said after setting a franchise record for the most saves in a shutout. "I'm trying to control my rebounds as best as possible. The guys in front are doing a great job of boxing out and cleaning up any garbage, and it allows me to see the puck."
Sabres coach Lindy Ruff felt his team didn't do enough to make Anderson's life difficult.
"Anderson was great," Ruff said. "I didn't think we got enough traffic on some of the shots. When you see him, you know he's had a good year and he's going to make those saves. We didn't quite get in front of him so he couldn't make that first save."
Erik Karlsson and Erik Condra scored less than two minutes apart in the second period for the Senators, who had lost their last two games. Karlsson's first career shorthanded goal broke Ottawa's offensive drought – the Senators had gone 121:35 without scoring. The reigning Norris Trophy winner leads the Senators with six goals this season.
Five of Anderson's saves in his second shutout of the season came against NHL scoring leader Thomas Vanek, who was held off the scoresheet by the Senators for the second time this month. Vanek leads the League with 11 goals and 23 points.
The Sabres have lost their last two games.
Both teams had chances in the scoreless first period. Stephane Da Costa found himself with the puck behind the Sabres' net and hit a waiting Kaspars Daugavins in front, but Ryan Miller stopped his shot 6:10 into the game.
Thirty seconds later, Anderson was forced to make several big stops. Steve Ott rifled a shot from one knee that deflected through traffic before Anderson tipped the puck in the air at the last instant to keep it out of the net. After Buffalo regained control, Nathan Gerbe passed across to Christian Ehrhoff, who sent a wrist shot into the chest of Ottawa goaltender.
Kyle Turris had a chance to put the Senators up on the power play after Ehrhoff was called for tripping at 11:40, but Karlsson's pass from the point slipped through Turris' legs and outside the open left corner of Miller's net.
The Sabres another great chance late in the period, but Drew Stafford misfired at a half-empty net during a 3-on-2 break.
Ottawa ended its scoring drought while killing off a second-period penalty to defenseman Mark Methot. Milan Michalek was in possession of the puck in the Sabres' zone when Karlsson called for it and sent a slap shot from the point past Miller at 15:20.
"I'm glad that [Michalek] saw me there," Karlsson said. "He put some nice sauce on it."
Anderson wasn't surprised that Karlsson was the one to break the Senators' scoring drought.
"That's Karlsson," Anderson said. "Enough said. Period. End of story. He's just one step ahead of everyone else."
The Senators made it 2-0 just 1:54 later when Mike Lundin passed across the point to Sergei Gonchar, who sent a shot through traffic towards Miller. The Buffalo goaltender made the initial stop, but Condra grabbed the rebound during a scramble and tipped the puck past Miller.
Anderson stopped all 15 shots he faced in the third period.
The Sabres spent a lot of the night killing penalties. Ottawa went 0-for-8 on the power play, but Ruff said spending so much time on the penalty kill made it tough to generate offense.
"We can't put ourselves in that position," he said. "It's too much ice time. I thought I had some guys who were really going [well] missing valuable time. We had to use a couple of our better players to kill penalties and they couldn't clear things out. There's got to be more discipline from us."
With the Sabres playing their third game in four nights, Miller agreed that having to kill eight penalties was a big drain on his team's energy because it kept Ruff from being able to roll four lines.
"It was simply a burnout there," he said. "Teams do pretty well controlling the puck these days [on the power play]. I thought we did all right off the faceoff, but [Ottawa] has a lot of skill, and it definitely plays a part in the energy factor. In this kind of season, you have to keep three or four lines going all the time. You can't get into special teams wars."