“This is it,” said Buffalo Sabres goalie Craig Anderson after what he described as a perfect final game on Thursday against his former team, the Ottawa Senators.
After being drafted into the NHL twice, playing in 708 games across 22 seasons and winning 4-3 against the team he was part of for nine years on Thursday, Craig Anderson had one thing left to say postgame.
“This is it.”
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The 41-year-old goaltender from Park Ridge, Ill., has announced his retirement from the NHL after one final season with the Buffalo Sabres. He stopped 30 of 33 shots in Friday’s overtime win against the Ottawa Senators, giving him his 319th win.
Before the game, his sons, Jake and Levi, announced the starting lineup. And after Sabres winger Casey Mittelstadt ended the game with a blazing shot past Senators netminder Mads Sogaard, the team made a beeline toward Anderson to give him one big group hug. The crowd rose to their feet for a lengthy standing ovation as the Senators lined up to hug their former netminder and teammate and congratulate him.
After waving to the crowd and taking it all in, he skated to the corner doors where his wife, Nicholle, and two sons awaited him so they could share one special moment together.
“It’s the perfect story,” Anderson told reporters after his NHL finale.
After being drafted 77th overall by the Calgary Flames in the 1999 NHL draft, Anderson re-entered the draft in 2001 and went 73rd overall by the Chicago Blackhawks. He played for the Blackhawks, Florida Panthers, Colorado Avalanche, Ottawa Senators, Washington Capitals and Buffalo Sabres.
In 2017, Anderson won the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy after an emotional season where he temporarily left the Senators to be with Nicholle as she fought and eventually beat nasopharyngeal carcinoma, a rare form of throat cancer. Anderson ended up leading the Sens to the Eastern Conference final, where his wife told him she was cancer-free ahead of Game 7.
More to come.