Everyone knew this was coming.
Craig Anderson pitched a 37-save shutout in his return to the crease after his wife Nicholle was diagnosed with cancer. Anderson had taken a personal leave of absence last week, but returned to the team at the behest of his wife after backup Andrew Hammond went down with injury. It was Anderson’s second shutout in a row, with a week in between them.
It wasn’t an easy return to action for Anderson, as the Senators were in Edmonton to face the top team in the Western Conference. Oilers coach Todd McLellan knew what was coming; he was the coach of San Jose when Dominic Moore left the team during the 2012 playoffs to tend to his wife Katie, who had been diagnosed with liver cancer. The Senators were heavily outshot, but the game never seemed in question with Anderson in net.
Senators captain Erik Karlsson told Sportsnet’s Mark Spector afterwards that despite the rivalries, the NHL is a tight league, “I feel like we have a lot of respect for each other… We do a lot of stupid things, but at the end of the day, we all have a life outside of the rink. When things like this happen, you have a lot of human respect for that.”
Anderson was named first star of the game, and the Oilers fans gave the teary-eyed goaltender a loud ovation when he came out to wave to the crowd. Oilers goalie Cam Talbot remained on the bench to clap and show support for his peer.
TSN’s Ray Ferraro and Ryan Rishaug both noted the quiet nature of the Senators locker room after the game (Ferraro on the Senators broadcast, Rishaug on Edmonton radio Monday morning). The visitor’s locker room was empty when the media entered the room; the Senators communications staff brought out select players one-by-one for interviews. Anderson did not speak to the media after the game.