BUFFALO – A decision will be made later. Right now, Sabres goalie Craig Anderson isn’t ready to say if tonight’s start game will be the final of his decorated 20-year NHL career.
Of course, Anderson, 41, understands retirement is nearing.
“Age is creeping up,” the NHL’s oldest player said prior to the home finale against his old team, the Ottawa Senators, at KeyBank Center.
But Anderson simply wants to stay in the moment.
“I’ve been very fortunate to play this game for a very long time,” he said. “I’m just going to enjoy every last bit of it. I feel like the last few years have been on borrowed life support here and just kind of take the moment as it is and enjoy it, because when it’s over, it’s over.”
Anderson hasn’t played since March 21, when he allowed six goals and got yanked from an ugly 7-3 home loss to the Nashville Predators.
The Sabres have some extra motivation tonight.
“This could be the game, probably is, the last game of his career,” Sabres coach Don Granato said. “There’s a lot of care for Craig, there’s a lot of respect for Craig in our locker room, from the coaching staff as well.”
Outings like Anderson’s last one have have been rare. The American has performed well in 25 games, compiling a 3.07 goals-against average and a .908 save percentage, the best numbers on the team. An upper-body injury has sidelined him the last 10 games.
The Sabres, meanwhile, made massive strides this season and stayed in the playoff race before being eliminated Tuesday.
“There was some great growth,” Anderson said of the season. “We’re still young, we’re still learning, we’re still trying to figure out who we are as individuals as well players. And what I saw this year was exponential growth. At the end of the day, it’s about being around the guys. Everyone here is a close-knit group. That’s something special to be a part of and something that I can be proud to be a part of.”
In other news, Granato said defenseman Mattias Samuelsson, who has been battling injuries, will likely miss the last two games of the season.
“He’s played some games for us that … he went above and beyond for us,” Granato said. “I’m not comfortable that he should go in there tonight, nor is Kevyn (Adams).”
In other lineup news, Granato said winger Victor Olofsson, a healthy scratch the last five games, will play tonight.
Update: The Sabres this afternoon recalled winger Lukas Rousek from the Rochester Americans. Rousek, 23, made his NHL debut March 27, registering a goal and an assist.