Hammond, surging Sens visit Carolina

(SportsNetwork.com) - Nicknamed "The Hamburglar" in college, Andrew Hammond is putting the Ottawa Senators in position to steal a playoff spot.

Hammond and the Senators look to secure a fourth straight victory on Tuesday night when they visit the Carolina Hurricanes.

The Senators are just five points behind the Boston Bruins for the second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference with a game in hand over their division rivals. Boston also is in action on Tuesday as they host the Buffalo Sabres.

The current run of the 27-year-old Hammond has been a big part of Ottawa's current 13-2-2 surge, with the undrafted netminder having gone 10-0-1 over his first 11 NHL starts. His latest victory came on Sunday with a 2-1 shootout decision over the Philadelphia Flyers.

Hammond made 27 saves and then stopped all three skaters he faced in the shootout, following up a third-round goal by teammate Bobby Ryan with a stop on Claude Giroux to seal the outcome. He has now allowed two goals or fewer in each of his first 11 starts, one shy of the NHL record set by Frank Brimsek in 1938-39 with the Boston Bruins.

"He's giving us a chance every night," Ryan said of Hammond.

Few may have thought this run possible when Hammond made his season debut on Feb. 16 versus Carolina. That game marked just his second NHL appearance as he came into action when netminder Robin Lehner suffered a concussion on a collision with teammate Clarke MacArthur. Hammond gave up two goals on five shots faced over 21 minutes of relief.

Hammond had been backing up Lehner with Craig Anderson out due to a hand injury, but now figures to get the start again tonight. Anderson had returned to the lineup in recent weeks, but will not be available Tuesday after aggravating his hand injury.

Ottawa recalled Chris Driedger from Evansville of the ECHL on an emergency basis to serve as the backup to Hammond.

The Hurricanes did win a 6-3 decision on that day as they took the first two of three meetings this season, both in Ottawa. Carolina has won eight of the last nine meetings overall as well as four in a row and 11 of the last 12 at home.

The 'Canes look to make it two victories in a row tonight as they halted a three-game slide with Sunday's 3-2 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets. Brad Malone, Justin Faulk and Ron Hainsey all had second-period goals and Andrej Nestrasil notched a pair of assists.

Anton Khudobin turned aside 22 shots to get the win as Carolina rebounded from a 2-0 loss to Florida the previous day.

The 22-year-old Faulk blasted home his 14th goal of the season, two shy of the club's single-season record by a defenseman held by Anton Babchuk.

"He's got a shot that's a weapon," Carolina coach Bill Peters said of Faulk. "He's becoming more comfortable bringing the puck up the ice. He's got a bright future."

Faulk was also called upon to log nearly 30 minutes of ice time as defenseman Rasmus Rissanen sustained a lower-body injury in the second period. The 'Canes announced on Monday that the 23-year-old Rissanen will miss 3-to-4 weeks with an MCL injury.

Carolina will play six of its next seven at home and has lost four of its past five as the host. Cam Ward figures to get the start tonight and is 13-7-2 versus the Sens with a 2.38 goals against average and .922 save percentage.