Craig Anderson

Red Hot Sens continue to defy odds by beating Habs

The Ottawa Senators chances of making the playoffs are slim, but it’s hard to rule them out entirely after they just recorded their ninth victory in 11 contests. Ottawa stayed sharp tonight with a 5-2 win over the Montreal Canadiens.

Max Pacioretty got Montreal off to a great start by finding the back of the net in power-play and shorthanded situations. However, rookie goaltender Andrew Hammond wouldn’t allow Montreal to beat him again. This was his 10th career game and he has never allowed more than two goals in a contest. With a 1.49 GAA and .952 save percentage, he’s the single biggest reason why Ottawa has been so effective lately. His strong start tonight has also made the goaltending situation in Ottawa more interesting as starter Craig Anderson is now healthy.

Ottawa defenseman Erik Karlsson also had a big game with two goals and an assist. That gives him 18 goals and 53 points in 66 contests, which is enough to lead all defensemen in the scoring race.

Under normal circumstances this might have been a night to forget for Sergei Gonchar, given that his Canadiens lost the game and he finished with a minus-two rating in 13:26 minutes of ice time. However, he became just the 57th player in NHL history to reach the 1,300-game milestone tonight.

Even after wining nine of its last 11 games, Ottawa is still seven points behind Boston in the battle for the second Wild Card spot, so the Senators will have to stay hot just to keep their hopes alive. By contrast Montreal is leading the Atlantic Division, although it has dropped five of its last six games.

Goalie nods: Sens go back to the Hamburglar

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All the latest from the blue paint…

Anderson sits, Hammond starts

After saying Craig Anderson gave his team the best chance to win prior to Tuesday’s 3-1 loss to Boston, Ottawa head coach Dave Cameron flipped the script by announcing Andrew Hammond, not Anderson, would get the start for tonight’s tilt against Montreal.

Hammond — aka “The Hamburglar” — returns to the net after a two-game hiatus, looking to build on his eye-popping numbers: 7-0-1 record, .954 save percentage, 1.43 GAA and two shutouts in nine appearances. His return also comes at a crucial time for Ottawa, as the Sens blew a golden opportunity on Tuesday to close the gap on Boston’s lead in the Eastern Conference playoff chase; they head into tonight’s action seven points back of the B’s, albeit with a game in hand.

For Montreal, Carey Price will get the start in goal.

Elsewhere…

Bolts at Bruins: Ben Bishop vs. Tuukka Rask (probable)

Oilers at Pens: Ben Scrivens vs. Marc-Andre Fleury

Stars at ‘Canes: Kari Lehtonen vs. Anton Khudobin

Jets at Panthers: Michael Hutchinson vs. Dan Ellis

Jackets at Wings: Sergei Bobrovsky vs. Jimmy Howard

Flyers at Blues: Steve Mason vs. Brian Elliott

Devils at Avs: Cory Schneider vs. Semyon Varlamov (probable)

Kings at Canucks: No confirmed starters for either team.

Blackhawks at Coyotes: Corey Crawford vs. Mike Smith

Preds at Sharks: (No starter for Nashville yet) vs. Antti Niemi

Spooner leads Bruins over Sens

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Ottawa native Ryan Spooner scored twice as the Bruins defeated the Senators 3-1 Tuesday night.

With the win, the Bruins (34-22-10) now have a six-point lead on the Florida Panthers for the second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference.

The Senators (30-24-11) fall seven points back of the Bruins in the loss.

With his second and third goals of the season, Spooner extended his point streak to six games.

Craig Anderson, who was making consecutive starts for the first time since Jan. 20-21, made 19 saves in the loss.

Loui Eriksson had the other Bruins goal.

Sens’ forward Matt Puempel scored his first NHL goal in the loss.

Tuukka Rask, who celebrated his 28th birthday on Tuesday, made 39 saves to improve to 27-16-10 on the season.

The Bruins have points in all four meetings between the to clubs this season (2-0-2). They’ll meet for a fifth and final time in Ottawa on March 19.

Video: Ottawa native Ryan Spooner scores twice vs. Sens

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Boston Bruins’ forward Ryan Spooner opened the scoring at 1:02 of the second period beating a screened Craig Anderson for his second goal of the season.

Spooner now has at least a point in six straight games.

After Loui Eriksson gave Boston 2-0 lead, Spooner netted his second of the night, and third of the season, for the first multi-goal game of his career.

The 23-year-old now has three goals and four assists during the point streak.

Milan Lucic picked up his 200th career assist on Spooner’s second of the night.

Anderson, who is starting in consecutive games for the first time since Jan. 20-21, allowed three goals on 18 shots through two periods.

Goalie nods: Pickard replaces injured Varlamov; Roy says start would be ‘unfair’ to Berra

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All the latest from the blue paint…

Pickard starts, Berra backs up

Having gone 8-3-0 in their last 11, the Avs are on the fringe of playoff contention and —  with a win against Los Angeles and a Jets regulation loss in St. Louis tonight — would be just five points back of the final wild card spot in the Western Conference.

As such, Patrick Roy is replacing injured No. 1 netminder with AHL recall Calvin Pickard, rather than backup Reto Berra.

“It’s very simple. Reto’s been practicing really well and the three games he came in for relief he did a good job for us, but he hasn’t started a game since Nov. 25,” Roy explained, per the Denver Post. “It’d be unfair to put him in a situation like this, such an important game for us.

“All the games Calvin played for us, he played really well. He’s one of the reasons why we’re in the position today of still having a chance to make the playoffs.”

Pickard, 22, is 6-6-3 this year for Colorado, posting  a .936 save percentage and 2.18 GAA. Berra, who has spent most of the season in Roy’s doghouse, had a couple of decent relief outings in February — stopping 22 of 23 shots against the Coyotes and Predators — but didn’t look great in Sunday’s 3-2 win over Minnesota, allowing one goal on four shots after Varlamov left with a lower-body injury.

No word yet on who’ll start for the Kings tonight.

Elsewhere…

Rangers at Isles: Cam Talbot vs. Jaroslav Halak

Stars at Flyers: Kari Lehtonen (probable) vs. Steve Mason

Jackets at ‘Canes: Sergei Bobrovsky vs. Cam Ward

Bolts at Habs: Ben Bishop vs. Carey Price

Bruins at Sens: Tuukka Rask vs. Craig Anderson

Jets at Blues: Michael Hutchinson vs. Brian Elliott

Devils at Wild: Cory Schneider vs. Devan Dubnyk