Casey Mittelstadt scored 1:18 into overtime, Craig Anderson stopped 30 shots in what could be his final career game, and the Buffalo Sabres closed their home schedule with a 4-3 win over the Ottawa Senators on Thursday night.
Tage Thompson scored his team-leading 47th goal, while Henri Jokiharju and Victor Olofsson also scored for Buffalo in a game between Atlantic Division rivals eliminated from playoff contention. By forcing overtime in rallying from a 3-2 deficit, the Sabres assured themselves of finishing 10th in the Eastern Conference standings.
Though extending their NHL-record playoff drought to 12 seasons following a 6-2 loss at New Jersey on Tuesday, the Sabres have 89 points to match their most since 2011-12, and with one game remaining. Buffalo’s 41 wins are also the most since winning 43 in 2010-11.
Claude Giroux achieved a single-season career-best by scoring his 35th goal, while playing in his 1,100th career game, and three days after reaching the 1,000-point plateau. Tim Stutzle had a goal and assist, and Dylan Gamrell also scored for the Senators, who closed their season with a 39-35-8 record.
Rookie Mads Sogaard stopped 32 shots for Ottawa.
Mittelstadt scored by accepting Rasmus Dahlin’s pass along the right boards, cutting into the circle and snapping a shot over Sogaard’s right shoulder.
The Sabres bench erupted with players racing down the ice to mob Anderson in his crease. Senators players then waited near their bench to congratulate Anderson, who spent 10 season playing for Ottawa. The goalie then stood near the Senators bench and waved to the cheering crowd before once again being mobbed by his teammates with the crowd chanting “Andy! Andy! Andy!”
Anderson’s lengthy celebration ended with him hugging his two sons and wife at the Zamboni entrance.
The Sabres blew a 2-0 lead in allowing the Senators to score three straight times in the second period. Thompson tied the game at 3 by one-timing Jeff Skinner’s pass into the slot for a power-play goal 3:03 into the third period.
Anderson, who turns 42 next month, was trying to stay in the moment, when asked before the game as to whether he might retire this summer. Anderson contemplated retirement last year before signing a one-year contract to return to Buffalo.
“Who knows. I’ve been very fortunate to play this game for a very long time. I’m just going to enjoy every last bit of it,” Anderson said. “The last few years have been on borrowed life support here.”
The Sabres had Anderson’s sons, Jake and Levi, announce Buffalo’s starting lineup in the locker room. The matchup was fitting because Anderson spent 10 seasons with the Senators, where he helped lead the team to the Eastern Conference finals in 2017.
Anderson, who now lives in south Florida and is from Park Ridge, Illinois, upped his career record to 319-275-71. He ranks fifth among American-born goalies in wins and games played, and third with 43 shutouts, one behind Ryan Miller.
Senators D Maxence Guenette, a seventh-round pick in the 2019 draft, made his NHL debut. … Sabres D Mattias Samuelsson is missing the final two games with an injury that has nagged him for much of the past month.
Senators: Season over.
Sabres: Close season at Columbus on Friday in game rescheduled from Dec. 27 due to snow storm in Buffalo.
John Wawrow, The Associated Press