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Sens' Craig Anderson blanks Oilers in return following wife's cancer diagnosis

EDMONTON, Alberta -- Craig Anderson leaned on his stick in the hallway behind the Ottawa Senators' bench and put his head down. The public address announcer said his name, and he lumbered onto the ice, tears flowing during an ovation from the other team's fans.

Anderson made his first start since learning of his wife's cancer diagnosis and had 37 saves for his second shutout in two starts, helping Ottawa beat the Edmonton Oilers 2-0 on Sunday night.

He left the team Thursday to be with his wife, Nicholle, but returned to start this game.

Teammates took turns hugging Anderson after the final horn, and then Anderson was left to wait alone in the hallway after being named the game's first star. The Edmonton crowd gave him a rousing cheer when he emerged, and among those clapping was Oilers goalie Cam Talbot, who had been named the No. 2 star.

It was Anderson's 35th career shutout, and he hasn't given up a goal in 121 minutes, 54 seconds.

"We couldn't really feel the gravity until the final whistle," Ottawa captain Erik Karlsson said. "We accomplished a great game, led by Andy. He held a strong face, but you could still see the pain in his eyes. And he came in here and led by example. He didn't say much, had the same routine and showed what a true leader he is."

Anderson was not available for comment after the game.

"[Anderson] being able to play the way he did under those circumstances, you have to give him so much credit. It's an unthinkable situation," Talbot said. "I can't even imagine what was going through his mind. I don't know if I would be able to do what he just did."

Mike Hoffman and Bobby Ryan scored for the Senators, who have won two of three.

The Oilers ended a five-game winning streak. Edmonton is 7-2-0, its best start to the season since going 8-1-0 in 1985-86.

"We're going to lose some games in an 82-game season," captain Connor McDavid said. "You can't expect to win each and every night. I thought we played well defensively, and when we didn't, [Talbot] was a rock back there."

Edmonton had a great chance seven minutes into the second period, but Anderson made a big kick save on rookie Jesse Puljujarvi.

Ottawa scored 12:18 into the middle period when Tom Pyatt was rewarded for some hard work, sending a backhand pass from behind the net in front to Hoffman, who scored his first of the season.

Hoffman hit a post with a power-play blast later in the period.

Anderson made another huge save midway through the third, stopping Jordan Eberle from point-blank range.

Anderson is in his 14th NHL season and seventh with the Senators. He shut out the Vancouver Canucks in his last start on Oct. 25.

"Pretty emotional night with everything that's been going on with this group," Hoffman said, adding that Anderson is "a huge part of this team" and "we're a family."

Ottawa put the game away with an empty-netter from Ryan with 33 seconds remaining.

Talbot had 20 saves.

NOTES: This was the first of two meetings this season between the teams. The other is Jan. 8 in Ottawa. ... Anderson started Sunday because Andrew Hammond got a lower-body injury Friday in Calgary.

UP NEXT

Senators: Head home to face Carolina on Tuesday.

Oilers: Begin a five-game trip in Toronto on Tuesday.

Related Video
Anderson blanks Oilers in emotional return
Anderson blanks Oilers in emotional return
Making his first start since learning wife's cancer diagnosis, Craig Anderson makes 37 saves as the Senators shut out the Oilers 2-0.

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