OTTAWA – Craig Anderson earned first star honors against the Capitals on Friday night in the Senators’ 2-0 win at Scotiabank Place. And while he earned praise from Bruce Boudreau and his players, everyone admitted it wasn’t the kind of game the Caps wanted to play.
“He certainly played well, but I think we could’ve made it tougher on him,” forward Brooks Laich said. “We didn’t get a lot of second opportunities. There were rebounds there, especially early in the game. We weren’t able to find them around the net.”
It was a game that included some questionable calls, including one on the Senators’ first goal. But as much as Boudreau felt he didn’t get reasonable explanations from the referees, he said officiating wasn’t the definitive aspect of this game.
Instead, he pointed to a lack of physicality and pressure, as Washington failed to make life difficult on not only Anderson but the Senators as a group. Still, the goalie showed a taste of why Ottawa rewarded him last week with a contract extension, finishing with 31 saves.
“I don’t know if we tested him enough. I thought we had some Grade A chances that we didn’t score on,” Boudreau said. “I thought we probably had more chances than them. But he was good. There was a reason they gave him four years: They knew a good goalie when they saw one.”
The end result was the 10th game this season in which the Caps were shut out. And it came on a night when Semyon Varlamov was a late replacement for the ill Michal Neuvirth and made 21 saves in a losing effort.
It’s tough to fault Varlamov for either goal. The first came as a result of Colin Greening crashing the net and required a long video review. And the second was the product of a bad defensive zone turnover that Erik Condra turned into a wrister past the 22-year-old Russia.
“I thought Varly did quite well for his first game in a month,” Boudreau said.
It’s not immediately clear who will start Saturday night at the Canadiens, but the focus in the Caps’ locker room is on trying not to have a repeat performance of Friday night in Ottawa.
“I thought we had some chances, too, but just couldn’t seem to get them by him there,” forward Matt Hendricks said. “But I do think they worked a little harder than us tonight, and we have to take a good look in the mirror and get ready for tomorrow.”
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