Craig Anderson becomes sixth U.S.-born NHL goaltender to reach 300-win milestone

Craig Anderson won the 300th game of his NHL career Thursday night, becoming just the sixth U.S.-born goaltender to reach that milestone.

Buffalo's netminder, 40, achieved the feat while making 30 saves in a 3-1 victory over visiting Vegas. The Park Ridge, Illinois, native now trails only Tom Barrasso, Ryan Miller, Mike Richter, Jonathan Quick and John Vanbiesbrouck for wins by an American goalie.

"I'm just fortunate and thankful for each year that I get to play,'' Anderson told reporters afterward. "At the end of the day, I'm still having fun. Again, if you do what you love, it's not work.''

Anderson's path to the 300 club was circuitous, to say the least. After being drafted in the third round, 73rd overall, by Chicago in 2001, Anderson was winless in his first 15 NHL games (0-11-4) and didn't become a true starter until 2009-10 with Colorado. Anderson's 71 appearances that season remain a career high, while he produced a .917 SV% and 2.63 GAA.

He was traded by Colorado to Ottawa halfway through the following season. That would end up being one of the best things to happen for Anderson's career.

In his first game as a Senator, Anderson pulled out 47 saves to shut out Ottawa's archrival, the Maple Leafs. In 2011-12, Anderson was on pace to be one of the NHL's top goalies, with 29 wins in 56 games, before he was injured in February.

The following season, Anderson was generating Vezina Trophy buzz before once again being felled by injury midway through February. He continued to excel in Ottawa for seasons to come, though, eventually breaking Patrick Lalime's franchise record for most wins with his 147th victory in March 2017.

From 2011 to '17 with the Senators, Anderson generated the best numbers of his career with a 140-94-33 record, .919 SV% and 2.62 GAA. He would remain in Ottawa until 2019-20, but those figures steadily declined. Still, Anderson was just 20 wins away from 300 in March 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit and shut the NHL down. Ottawa wouldn't play again until the following season, and the club opted to move on from Anderson.

He was still hoping to stay in the game, so Anderson signed a professional tryout with the Washington Capitals in December 2020, and eventually earned a one-year contract. He was mostly just a practice goalie and made only four appearances for the Capitals but performed well enough in them (.915 SV%, 2.13 GAA) that Buffalo took a flier on him.

The Sabres announced in July that Anderson had inked a one-year, $750,000 deal. And Anderson was good out of the gate, going 4-2-0 until a neck injury once again put him on the sidelines in early November. He battled through a difficult rehabilitation to be back protecting Buffalo's crease by January, producing a respectable 4-5-0 record and .897 SV% for the rebuilding Sabres following his return.