Hammond Stars as Senators Edge Closer to Playoffs

Photo courtesy Losangeles.cbslocal.com

Saturday was a great night all around for the Ottawa Senators as they romped to a 5-0 victory over the Montreal Canadiens to strengthen their push for a playoff spot.

As well as sending off one of their main rivals in a game that saw the Sens score three shorthanded goals, Ottawa also showed just what Andrew Hammond is capable of. The goalie produced his first shutout of the season in a sensational performance.

Having been thrust into action following Craig Anderson’s injury, Hammond has gone a long way towards proving that his incredible streak last season — in which the goalie went 20-1 with the Senators – was not luck alone.

While plenty of Ottawa fans felt there was a good chance Anderson’s injury would be the final nail in the franchise’s playoffs hopes, Hammond’s recent displays have sent out a message that Senators will still be playing hard over the next few weeks.

Having spent a month on the sidelines, 28-year-old Hammond made an immediate impression after stepping on the ice to replace Anderson at the beginning of March. Ottawa might still have a lot of work to do if they are going to squeak into the playoffs, but they’ll feel a lot better about their chances with Hammond in this sort of form.

"New York Islanders vs. Ottawa Senators -" (CC BY-SA 2.0) by Dougtone
“New York Islanders vs. Ottawa Senators -” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by Dougtone

Despite Montreal throwing everything they had at Hammond in the Senators goal, the Canadiens were frustrated time and again by the Ottawa stand-in keeper.

They watched as 30 shots bounced off an immaculate all-round performance by a player who is beginning to fulfil his NHL dream after spending years working his way up the lower leagues.

Since the Senators are coming up against a string of fellow playoff-chasing teams between now and the end of the current campaign, maintaining this form will be essential. Nowhere will this be more true than when they end the regular season against the Boston Bruins, a team priced at the time of writing at around 20/1 at http://extra.bet365.com/news/en/US-Sports/NHL.  

With Hammond working miracles between the posts, the Senators were able to focus on offence and Jean-Gabriel Pageau, Curtis Lazar, and Alex Chiasson all scored short-handed goals for the visitors, with Marc Methot and Mika Zibanejad adding the other goals in a game the Canadiens will be keen to forget.

In what was just the fourth time in franchise history, and first time since April 2008, Ottawa’s three short-handed goals highlighted just how dangerous the Senators are during a powerplay.

Ben Scrivens in the Canadiens’ goal more than held his own on the opposite side of the ice to Hammond, making 39 saves despite conceding five goals in a tough night at the office. But the fact the Ottawa offence managed to score five goals past such an inspired goalie really shows how dominant they were in a successful trip across Ontario.

Currently fifth in the Atlantic Division, time is running out for the Senators to book their place in the playoffs. But with a number of very winnable games coming up, there is still a chance the franchise could upset the odds and sneak into the post season at the last minute.

Article By David Harrison.