41-year-old Craig Anderson makes history with miraculous 53-save win
Some may find it hard to believe that Buffalo Sabers goaltender Craig Anderson is still playing in the NHL this season. However, his (long-time) former team certainly took note of his presence on Friday night. Anderson, 41, became the oldest goaltender in NHL history to make 50 saves in a game, helping the Sabres to a 3-1 win over the Florida Panthers.
Amid unexpectedly strong goaltending play, the Sabers ended Friday in an equally surprising position: the East’s second wild card.
Craig Anderson has entered the old goalkeeping history against the former team
Anderson, who turns 42 on May 21, made an impressive 53 saves, conceding just one goal from Carter Verhage.
The Sabres shared a more specific interesting statistic: Anderson is also the first goaltender aged 41 or older to record multiple games in which they made at least 40 saves, conceding one goal or less.
December 13thAnderson made a 40-save shutout against the Los Angeles Kings.
As much as the team preferred to shelter a goaltender of Anderson’s age (or any goaltender in general), he was able to keep Buffalo in many head-to-head matches. Friday’s clinic with 53 saves pushed Anderson to a save percentage that shines for players of all ages: 0.920. Interestingly, Anderson’s record (8-7-2) isn’t as impressive as Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen’s (14-8-2), although the young goalie has a shaky .894 shooting percentage.
Either way, Anderson continues to do his best work when people aren’t paying attention to him.
Back in the 2020–2021 season, he was limited to four games played, and Anderson struggled in his last three seasons with the Senators, posting a .903 or lower shooting percentage from 2017–18 to 2019–20.
Last season, his first with Buffalo, only reinforced the idea that he might be leaving the NHL. Instead, both Anderson and the Sabres surprised the league.
The Sabers fit into the playoff picture very strongly; another painful setback for Florida
While he started his career with the Chicago Blackhawks (and was actually drafted twice), Anderson found his footing with the Panthers as a sneaky strong understudy. In 53 games from 2006-07 to 2008-09, Anderson posted an impressive .928 save percentage. It must have been surreal for Anderson to play at this level against his former team. in a place where he still has a home.
With each surprise performance, a playoff run seems more real for Anderson and the Sabres.
Both the Sabers and Red Wings currently have 64 points in 57 games played, but Buffalo has a tie-break advantage so they are second on the East’s wild card list. The Panthers also boast 64 points, but in 61 games they have seen how painful this loss is. The top team in the East, the Islanders, lost on Friday (67 points in 62nd GP), while the Penguins (63 points in 57th GP) and the Capitals (62 points in 60th GP) m GP) are mired in recession.
The Sabers haven’t gone all the way to Cinderella yet, but nights like these make one wonder if Anderson and his young Sabers teammates have any magic left.