Anderson returns for critical game against Florida

Craig Anderson is finally back.

SUNRISE, Florida – Craig Anderson is finally back.

After sitting out the past 19 games with a sprained ankle, the Ottawa Senators number one goaltender will start in goal Sunday against the Florida Panthers.

Anderson owns an 8-4-2 record and leads the league in both goals against average (1.49) and save percentage (.952).

While the Senators have surprised many within the NHL by managing to stay in a playoff spot without Anderson (as well as without injured defenceman Erik Karlsson and top centre Jason Spezza), Sunday’s game has become a critical contest.

The Senators own a 10-6-3 record without Anderson, but they’ve lost three straight games in regulation for the first time this season and their lead over the pack fighting for playoff spots is dwindling every night.

Senators coach Paul MacLean cut Sunday’s morning skate short, not wanting his players to waste any additional energy. He wants their focus clearly on the game, noting the club has not started well in its previous few games.

The Senators have won 11 of their past 12 meetings against Florida. Anderson has a career record of 9-0-1, with a goals against average of 0.89, against the Panthers.

The Panthers, who have been hit even harder with injuries than the Senators, have no hopes of making the playoffs. They’re dead last in the Eastern Conference standings, with a record of 12-20-6. The Panthers are 6-9-5 at home and have allowed 131 goals against, the most in the Eastern Conference.

Fatigue could also be a factor. The Panthers played at home Saturday night, losing 4-3 to the Washington Capitals.

In addition to starting Anderson, the Senators will make one other lineup change. Defenceman Andre Benoit will play Sunday, replacing Mike Lundin.

Tags: , ,

What do you think? Leave a comment