As Ottawa Senators goaltender Craig Anderson lay on the ice outside the crease, defenceman Marc Methot was staring in disbelief. Methot couldn’t fathom the possibility of yet another major injury happening to another pivotal player.

“That was tough,” said Methot, who watched, along with the rest of the Senators players and the stunned Scotiabank Place crowd of 19,076, as Anderson limped off the ice and into the dressing room with the help of the club’s training staff early in the third period Thursday. Anderson’s right foot was in the air.

“I’m speaking, I’m sure, for a lot of the guys on the team when I say my heart sank into my stomach. When you’ve got one of the guys who is a large part of the heart and soul of the team and he has been playing so well, that’s just the luck we’ve been getting right now.”

With backup Ben Bishop taking over in goal, the Senators eventually defeated the New York Rangers 3-2 when Jakob Silfverberg and Kaspars Daugavins beat Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist in a 14-player shootout. The victory, however, paled in comparison to the possibility of losing Anderson for any length of time.

The initial word from the Senators was that Anderson had suffered a sprained right ankle. He’s officially listed as day-to-day, but it looked awfully serious as he left the ice amid the silence in the crowd. While Anderson wasn’t available to the media, he did offer a post-game tweet, saying, “Another 2 pts. Bish stood tall. Hard place to come in the game. My ankle’s going to be OK. Be back ASAP.”

Anderson was the NHL’s best netminder through the first third of the season and a leading candidate to win the Hart Trophy as the league’s most valuable player. Before Thursday’s game, he sported an 8-4-2 record, with a league-leading 1.57 goals-against average and .950 save percentage. Robin Lehner, the Senators’ 21-year-old goaltender of the future, was immediately recalled from Binghamton of the American Hockey League.

There was nothing malicious in the play, which occurred with the Senators leading 1-0.

As Rangers rookie Chris Kreider went hard to the net, his skate caught Methot’s stick and he fell, sliding into Anderson.