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OTTAWA – The Ottawa Senators are used to Craig Anderson making outstanding saves. His teammates believe he took things to a new level Thursday night.
Anderson stopped 39 shots in the Ottawa Senators' home opener, a 5-2 win over New Jersey on Thursday night that left the Devils as the only winless team in the NHL.
Two of Anderson's saves were highlight reel worthy.
The first came in the second period with his back to the play when he managed to stretch out and get a leg out to stop Ryan Carter. The second came in the third period when he made an outstanding stick save on Jaromir Jagr.
"I don't know if you ever get used to it," Jason Spezza said. "You still marvel at some of the saves he makes. That's one of the best I've seen. That keeps us with the lead, keeps our confidence up and you get one or two saves like that every couple of nights and it gives you a chance to win."
Even the Devils' Martin Brodeur, who had his share of struggles on the night, had praise for Anderson.
"He was battling out there," Brodeur said. "It wasn't real pretty to watch, but he got it done. It's exciting goaltending, there's no doubt about that. He's the reason they got two points."
Anderson said for the most part, he was just "making it up as he went along."
In addition to Anderson being solid in net, the Senators had strong performances from Spezza and Erik Karlsson with a goal and two assists apiece.
The win marked the Senators first victory on home ice as they spent the first two weeks of the season on the road. Bobby Ryan, Zack Smith, and Milan Michalek also scored.
The Devils (0-4-3) remain winless and Brodeur was far from his best, facing 23 shots. Travis Zajac and Steve Bernier scored for New Jersey.
Karlsson opened the scoring four minutes into the game, taking a great feed from Ryan and beating Brodeur with a blast on the Senators' first shot of the game.
"We were excited to come home," Spezza said. "We definitely used the energy and got off to our best start of the season so far and that led to us winning the game."
Just over two minutes later, Kyle Turris found Ryan behind the net and Ryan scored on the wraparound. With things looking like they could quickly spiral out of control, New Jersey called a timeout.
"It's never easy," Devils coach Peter DeBoer said. "We didn't quit. We dug in and tried to battle out of the hole."
The Devils had a number of great chances in the second, but couldn't get anything past Anderson.
"He's a good goalie and maybe a little puck luck here and there and a few go in," Carter said. "He's a big guy and he covered a lot of space on the ice and when we did find a way to get it up, it felt like we were pounding it on the pad all night. It's unfortunate."
Despite showing some fight, the Devils admit to feeling a sense of urgency.
"We're seven games in and we haven't found a way to get a win yet," Carter said. "You outshoot a team in the 40s and they're in the 20s and you end up on the wrong end of the scoreboard. There's no question it's desperate times."
With less than two minutes remaining in the period, the Senators made it 3-0 on a great passing sequence that started with Spezza finding Karlsson, who fed Smith at the side of the net. Smith fired it past Brodeur on Ottawa's fourth shot of the period.
The Senators ran into some penalty trouble at the end of the period. With Chris Phillips already in the box, Eric Gryba took a high-sticking penalty late in the period to give the Devils a 5-on-3 for 1:42.
New Jersey started the third period with the two-man advantage and Zajac finally beat Anderson short side.
Anderson then robbed Jagr with a great stick save, which made the crowd of 18, 867 chant his name.
"That came at a crucial time and we need that save right there and he makes it and that's why we love him so much," Karlsson said. "He comes up big for us when we need him and obviously he might have saved the game for us."
The Devils made it 3-2 midway through the period, as the Senators were unable to clear the puck out of their own end. Bernier took advantage, jumping on a loose puck to beat Anderson five-hole.
Michalek gave the Senators breathing room as he beat Brodeur with a slap shot from just inside the blue-line with under four minutes remaining in regulation.
Spezza then made it 5-2 with an empty-net goal.
NOTES: Spezza was given a huge cheer as he took to the ice at Canadian Tire Centre for the first time as team captain. ... Center Stephane Da Costa was placed on waivers today. Defenseman Joe Corvo was a healthy scratch. ... New Jersey defenseman Mark Fayne, center Jacob Josefson and left winger Rostislav Olesz also were healthy scratches.