By IRA PODELL, Associated Press
NEW YORK (AP) — Craig Anderson marveled at the history portrayed on the walls of Madison Square Garden. His playoff performance against the New York Rangers will certainly be remembered even if it's not celebrated at the "World's Most Famous Arena."
Anderson stopped 41 shots and made Jason Spezza's first-period goal and empty-netter stand up as the Ottawa Senators pushed the top-seeded Rangers to the brink of elimination with a 2-0 victory Saturday night in Game 5.
"You walk down the hallway and you see the photos of who's played here and what sporting events have happened here," Anderson said. "It's just magical. To be part of it is beyond words."
If things go well at home, he and the Senators won't have to make a return trip to the Garden until next season.
The Senators, the No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference, have won two straight and will have a chance to knock out the Rangers on Monday night. If New York can stay alive, the deciding Game 7 would be back in New York on Thursday night.
"We know we are going to get their best," Spezza said. "The first thing you learn is that the toughest thing is to put a team out of the playoffs. We can enjoy this one for all of 10 minutes and get refocused. We know they are the best team in the East. They'll give us their best game and we have to be sure we match that."
Spezza sealed this win by scoring with 55.3 seconds remaining, and Anderson was perfect in earning his second career NHL playoff shutout. He stood tall in the third period when the Rangers pressed for the tying goal. Since New York took a 2-0 lead in the first period of its 3-2 overtime loss in Game 4, Anderson has gone 116 minutes, 32 seconds without allowing a goal — stopping 66 consecutive shots. He has given up just five goals in four games.
Rangers coach John Tortorella rarely heaps praise on opposing players, but he admitted that Anderson was the difference in this one. He said there was plenty to like about the Rangers' game, except for the poor power play and the result.
"I feel better about the team after tonight's game than a couple of wins," he said. "We go to Ottawa and have to play the same way and keep banging away and see if we can score some goals."
New York has managed only three in three games, including a 1-0 road victory in Game 3.
Henrik Lundqvist nearly matched Anderson's performance and made 28 saves for New York. The Rangers have come back to win only one series in which they trailed 3-2.
"It hurts," Lundqvist said. "It's not a fun situation, that's for sure. This is not over, but we're in a tough position. We don't need to change much. We're right there."
The Rangers join the West's top seed — the Vancouver Canucks — in being one loss away from an unexpected early summer. Boston, the No. 2 seed in the East, also is down 3-2 in its series against Washington.
It now also appears that the Rangers might have to play without forward Brian Boyle, who was injured in the third period when he was hit late and high by Ottawa agitator Chris Neil. The 6-foot-7 Boyle, who scored in each of the first three games of the series and has three of New York's nine total goals, sustained a concussion, according to Tortorella.
Tortorella compared the hit to one delivered by Phoenix's Raffi Torres, who was suspended by the NHL on Saturday for 25 games for his shot that sent Chicago's Marian Hossa to the hospital.
"He's concussed and out," Tortorella said about Boyle. "Exact same hit as Torres. "He launches himself, head shot. The puck is at the goal line when he's hit. The blueprint is there. He's a repeat offender, too. Not too much research to be done there.
"It's just a dangerous, dangerous, cheap hit."
Neil didn't receive a penalty. Boyle returned a few minutes later on the Rangers' penalty kill, and played only three shifts the rest of the way.
Ottawa would be an unlikely participant in the second round, especially if the Senators get there without captain Daniel Alfredsson, who has been sidelined since Game 2 because of a concussion following a hit by Rangers rookie Carl Hagelin. Hagelin, suspended three games by the NHL for the hit, is eligible to return Monday.