Craig Anderson couldn't have picked a bigger stage than Madison Square Garden for a star-studded performance.
The Ottawa Senators goaltender was able to leave the world's most famous arena with a smile from ear-to-ear Saturday night after he made 41 saves to push the top-ranked New York Rangers to the verge of elimination.
The No. 8-ranked Senators pulled to a 3-2 lead in the NHL Eastern Conference quarter-final on the strength of a 2-0 victory which was led by one of the best performances of Anderson's short career with the Senators with Game 6 set for Monday in Ottawa (CBC, CBCSports.ca, 7 p.m. ET).
"It was just a matter of making the next save for the guys. Not really getting focused on the shot clock or what situations were with the score or what-not. I just stayed in the moment, one shot at a time," said Anderson.
Coach Paul MacLean said that was Anderson at his best.
"That was as good as I've seen him," said MacLean. "I thought he was really good at home [in Game 4] as well and I think he's been really good throughout this series."
Even Henrik Lundqvist was impressed with Anderson.
"He played well," said Lundqvist. "It's a challenge for us to win this. We have to keep working, have to keep pushing ourselves to play even better and get a little more involved in front of the net.
"The guy's have been doing a great job. You can't work harder, the guy's put everything out there."
Boyle lost to injury
The Rangers could be in trouble. They lost centre Brian Boyle after he took a hard hit from Chris Neil in the third period. Neil was forced todefend the hit in his post-game scrum.
"I thought it was a clean hit," said Neil, who has never been suspended in his career.
Both Ottawa goals were scored by top centre Jason Spezza and it was the first time in the series, the Senators played with the lead.
"I feel like I've been working hard and it's nice to get rewarded," said Spezza. "But, this is the time of year the most important things are wins.
"We found ourselves even in the series, and I hadn't scored yet, but I felt like I was doing some good things. It's probably a little more mature approach, but I just kept plugging away the best I could."
The Rangers swear this series isn't over.
"We still have to win two," said Rangers centre Brad Richards. "It's no different now. We just have to win one in their building to keep us alive instead of closing it out.
"Win that one and bring it back here. It's just going to have to take seven games now. That's the reality of it."
Anderson saw the significance of winning in New York.
"Every game is important, regardless of the building, regardless of who you're playing against," said Anderson. "It just so happens that it's Madison Square Garden, it's New York city, it's the centre stage for a lot of things. I guess I'm lucky."
He wasn't just lucky, he was good.
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