Sports

Streaking Senators aim to extend Sharks' home skid

(SportsNetwork.com) - The Ottawa Senators look to provide another jolt to their playoff hopes on Saturday night with a season-high fifth straight victory as they visit the struggling San Jose Sharks.

The Senators have caught fire as of late thanks to goaltender Andrew Hammond, who has won each of his first four NHL starts while stopping 123 of the 126 shots he has faced over that time.

Hammond, pressed into duty because of injuries to Craig Anderson and Robin Lehner, posted shutouts on back-to-back nights earlier this week, turning aside 25 shots in a 3-0 win at Anaheim on Wednesday before posting 35 saves to blank the Los Angeles Kings 1-0.

"For the most part tonight, I was in a good position to create a platform to battle from," said Hammond after beating the Kings. "I wasn't really chasing too much. The team in front of me played such a good style of hockey against that club. There were a few saves that I had to make but that's just hockey. You need your goaltender to make some saves."

Rookie Mike Hoffman scored his team-leading 21st goal of the season as the Senators have won the first two of a five-game road trip to pull within seven points of the Boston Bruins for the second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference.

While Ottawa has matched a season high of four straight victories first set from Oct. 11-18, the Sharks have lost seven of their past nine to fall two points back of the Los Angeles Kings and Calgary Flames for third place in the Pacific Division.

San Jose lost for the seventh time in a row at home on Thursday night, falling 3-2 to the Detroit Red Wings. Matt Irwin and Patrick Marleau scored for the Sharks, while Antti Niemi stopped 32-of-35 shots.

"We haven't won our share. I'm not sure if we have a home win in February and that is very troubling," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said.

McLellan was correct as the Sharks haven't won at home since Jan. 31.

San Jose will play the third contest of a four-game homestand tonight and Niemi figures to get the call in net. He is 2-1-0 with a 2.00 goals against average and .917 save percentage in three prior meetings.

The Sharks have won seven of their past eight versus the Senators.