Recap: Anderson Blanks Islanders in Return to Senators Lineup

Before the puck even dropped the Sens were already the big newsmakers of the day, announcing Craig Anderson would start for the first time since Dec. 5 against Pittsburgh. They made some more news on the ice later that afternoon as they shut out the red-hot New York Islanders.

Anderson was stellar in the win – and he needed to be, as the Sens were outshot 33-24 – but even more encouraging for Ottawa was its collective defensive play. After two brutal outings against the Blues and Sabres in the past week, the Sens turned in a good defensive performance Thursday night against the Stars and did so again Saturday afternoon.

Having played with the line combinations in their last game to generate some offence, Guy Boucher kept the blender running and iced another different looking lineup against the Islanders. The move paid off and then some as the Sens struck for three goals to start a mini two-game winning streak.

First Period

It was a sloppy start to the game, so it’s fitting the first goal of the game was of the lunch pale (read: garbage) variety. Erik Karlsson fanned on a slapper to the benefit of Mark Stone, who picked up the puck and converted a bank shot off Thomas Greiss’s skate 4:10 into the game.

Despite a number of chances from both teams – shots were 12-10 Ottawa at the end of the first frame – they headed into the intermission with the Sens holding just a 1-0 lead. Much of that was thanks to Anderson, who looked sharp seeing his first action in over two months.

Second Period

The Islanders picked up on what was a good first period for them, as they tried to net themselves a goal and even up the game. Just over two minutes into the frame, the Isles had already outshot Ottawa 4-1 and were maintaining consistent pressure, but Anderson was up to the task.

Despite facing an early flurry, it was the Sens who struck first in the period. Kyle Turris fed a perfect pass to Zack Smith in the high slot, who split two New York defenders before deking Greiss and sliding a backhander under his outstretched pad.

After surviving another sequence in which the Islanders power play had the Sens hemmed in their own zone for much of the two-minute kill, Ottawa made good on another of its few chances in the period – they were outshot by a 14-5 margin.

The Sens broke out with speed into the Islanders zone, with Tom Pyatt sending a cross-crease pass to the far post that Jean-Gabriel Pageau tipped over Greiss. In the Ottawa net, as alluded to, Anderson was busy once again but remained sharp to keep the Isles off the board through 40 minutes.

Third Period

It was a quiet period at both ends, with neither team generating much in the way of quality scoring chances. The Sens played a good period of shutdown defence to preserve Anderson’s shutout, taking advantage of their 3-0 lead and not pressing much in the offensive zone.

The win stands to boost Ottawa’s confidence, considering the Islanders have been one of the best teams in the league of late. The Sens now have two days off before a rematch with the Sabres Feb. 14.

Scoring Summary

First Period

OTT – Mark Stone (20) assisted by Erik Karlsson (37)

Second Period

OTT – Zack Smith (13) assisted by Kyle Turris (19) and Dion Phaneuf (15)

OTT – Jean-Gabriel Pageau (6) assisted by Tom Pyatt (11)

Third Period

No Scoring

THW Three Stars

First: Craig Anderson (33 saves, shutout)

Second: Mark Stone (1 goal, GWG)

Third: Jean-Gabriel Pageau (1 goal)

Next Up

Colorado Avalanche at New York Islanders

Barclays Center – 6:00 p.m. EST (Sunday, Feb. 12)

Broadcast channels: ALT2, MSG+

2016-17 Season Series: Jan. 6 – COL 2 – NYI 1 (OT)

Next Up

Buffalo Sabres at Ottawa Senators

Canadian Tire Centre – 7:30 p.m. EST (Tuesday, Feb. 14)

Broadcast channels: RDS, TSN5, MSG-B

2016-17 Season Series: Nov. 5 – BUF 2 – OTT 1, Nov. 9 – OTT 2 – BUF 1 (SO), Nov. 29 – BUF 5 – OTT 4,  Feb. 4 – BUF 4 – OTT 0