The Cinderella story that is Ottawa goaltender Andrew Hammond continued on Friday, as the 27-year-old led the Sens to a 2-1 win over the New York Islanders.
The man they call ‘The Hamburglar’ made 35 saves to register his ninth win of the season and remain undefeated in regulation. He also proved why he should continue to steal starts from top dog Craig Anderson.
Hammond is making life difficult in the best way for coach Dave Cameron, who now has to decide between playing his hot AHL callup or his established starter.
Hammond has definitely made his case to stay in net down the stretch. He won back-to-back road games against the Canadiens and Islanders on Thursday and Friday while helping the Sens climb over Florida into ninth spot in the East.
Anderson, meanwhile, is 1-1-0 since returning from injury and clearly isn’t up to speed for a stretch drive. The veteran netminder has allowed seven goals in his last two games and posted a .864 save percentage in losing a key contest against Boston earlier this week.
That was a win the Sens badly needed.
Ottawa now has 15 games left to catch the Bruins, who are five points ahead of them for the last wild card spot. Boston also owns the tiebreaker, so Ottawa needs to make up six points to make the playoffs.
It’s a tall task, especially with Boston on a four-game winning streak, but Hammond seems to thrive under pressure. The stretch run also gives Ottawa fans something to cheer about and a figure to rally around in what may otherwise be a lost season with a mediocre draft pick waiting at the end.
Hammond held up well against John Tavares and the Islanders on Friday. He took a puck to the head and hung in the game, giving up just one goal off the stick of Tyler Kennedy.
With Hammond’s 1.44 goals-against average, .954 save percentage and two shutouts, the Sens might as well ride him as far as he can take them. If anything, the extra starts will give Ottawa a larger sample size to consider when Hammond’s contract runs out this summer.
That’s when Bryan Murray will have to figure what he has in a goalie who puts up all-star numbers in the NHL, but who is downright mediocre in the minors.
That’s when Murray will have to be wary of getting robbed by ‘The Hamburglar’ and his hot streak.