Ottawa Senators

Goalie nods: Hackett goes for Sabres in McEichel Derby

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All the latest from the blue paint…

No Lindback for Buffalo

The NHL’s two worst teams — standings-wise, anyway — will do battle tonight when the Sabres host the Coyotes in Buffalo, and Buffalo will start little-used Matthew Hackett in net ahead of Anders Lindback, who’s been quite solid of late.

Hackett, 25, is 0-3-0 this year with a .893 save percentage and 4.34 GAA. He’s spent the majority of the season AHL Rochester, but was summoned to the Sabres after Chad Johnson went down to injury almost immediately after being acquired via trade.

In hist last outing, a 3-0 loss to Nashville, Hackett allowed three goals on 43 shots, good for a .930 save percentage.

For the Coyotes, Mike Smith will get the start in goal. Smith’s turnaround after a dreadful start has been one of the few bright spots in Arizona this season, and is worth mentioning — the veteran has been very good in nine games this month, allowing just 21 goals on 326 shots for a .936 save percentage.

Elsewhere…

Anaheim at Boston: Frederik Andersen vs. Tuukka Rask (probable)

Kings at Isles: Jonathan Quick (probable) vs. Jaroslav Halak

Devils at Caps: Cory Schneider vs. Braden Holtby

Pens at ‘Canes: Marc-Andre Fleury vs. Cam Ward

Preds at Bolts: Pekka Rinne (probable) vs. Ben Bishop

Sharks at Wings: Antti Niemi vs. Jimmy Howard

Rangers at Sens: Cam Talbot vs. Andrew Hammond

Panthers at Leafs: Roberto Luongo vs. Jonathan Bernier

Habs at Jets: Dustin Tokarski vs. Ondrej Pavelec

Avs at Canucks: Semyon Varlamov vs. (No Vancouver starter yet.)

Sens tell fans to stop throwing hamburgers

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Despite the notoriety Hamburglar-inspired burger tossing has received — see: Lazar, Curtis and Roenick, Jeremy — the Ottawa Senators are ready to shut it down.

“We will continue to abide by both our own and the NHL’s policy to work in the best interests of the safety of our fans and the players — which does not permit items being thrown on the ice during play,” Sens director of communications Brian Morris told the Ottawa Citizen. “There will be zero tolerance for any items thrown onto the ice during play.”

As you’ve probably heard and/or seen by now, Sens fans have taken to chucking quite a large number of McDonald’s hamburgers during Andrew “the Hamburglar” Hammond’s improbable hot streak, during which he’s gone 14-0-1 with a 1.67 GAA and .946 save percentage.

That run of tremendous play has vaulted Ottawa into the final wild card position in the Eastern Conference, which in turn has fired up fans. The Sens missed the playoffs last year and, in mid-February, looked as though they would miss again; Ottawa was nine points back of Boston on Feb. 14, which is around the time Hammond took over the crease and went on his remarkable streak.

The Sens have five home games remaining this season and while they’re probably keen to keep the raucous fan support going, they’re also keen on keeping the playing surface free of ketchup and pickles.

“We are treating this seriously enough that we had Erik Karlsson and Marc Methot tape a bilingual message after practice today that will play in tomorrow’s game,” Morris said. “The message will support the above asking fans not to toss anything on the ice during the game.”

PHT Morning Skate: Canes’ players sample girl scout cookies for the first time

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PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

Carolina Hurricanes’ Andrej Nestrasil, Anton Khudobin, and Riley Nash sample Girl Scout cookies for the first time:

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Abysmal Leafs fail to sell out Air Canada Centre for first time in arena’s history; will we see more non-sellouts? (The Hockey News)

Referee KO’d after LNAH player takes out his legs. (Puck Daddy)

Ottawa Senators goaltender Andrew Hammond isn’t the only player with ties to McDonald’s these days. Montreal Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty recently had a little fun with Bruins’ fans in an ad for his McDonald’s burgher “Max 67”.

From afterthought to savior, it’s been 10 wild months for Devan Dubnyk. (Sportsnet)

Prior to puck drop on Monday night the Toronto Maple Leafs honored defenseman Eric Brewer for playing in his 1,000th NHL game over the weekend.

Senators rally in third to beat Sharks, surpass Bruins in Wild Card race

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Back in mid-February, Ottawa required nothing short of a miraculous run to get back into the playoff race. Enter 27-year-old rookie goaltender Andrew Hammond. He’s reversed the course of the team to the point where they are actually in possession of a Wild Card spot after earning a 5-2 victory against San Jose Monday night.

San Jose’s Joe Pavelski and Chris Tierney did managed to score just 30 seconds apart in the second period, but that’s all Hammond allowed in his 29-save effort. Ottawa did the rest courtesy of a third period rally with Senators forwards Mika Zibanejad and Bobby Ryan leading the charge.

Zibanejad netted Ottawa’s first two goals of the game while Ryan was credited with three assists, including the 200th of his career.

Starting with Hammond’s first start on Feb. 18, the Senators have gone on a 15-1-1 run. The sole regulation loss came during one of Craig Anderson’s two starts during that stretch. Coupled with the Bruins dropping five straight games, Ottawa now has a one-point edge over Boston in the battle for the second Wild Card seed. On top of that the Senators have played in one less game.

The stakes will be very high for the Bruins on Thursday when they take on the Anaheim Ducks.

For the Senators, as big as tonight was, there might also be a somber note to it. Although Hammond played the full 60 minutes, he suffered an ankle injury that required treatment after the contest, per the Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch. Zibanejad also blocked a shot with his arm but said he’s okay.

Video: Senators’ Zibanejad scores off of his knee

Mika Zibanejad had an unusual way of getting the Ottawa Senators on the board first in a key game against the San Jose Sharks tonight. He managed to get the puck past goaltender Antti Niemi by knocking it forward with his knee.

The league reviewed the goal to see if there was a kicking motion, but ultimately ruled that it was a legal redirect and the marker consequently stood.

You can see that below:

It was Zibanejad’s 18th goal of the season and it also extended his point streak to four contests. It’s worth noting that Ottawa has a 22-11-7 record when scoring first, which might sound great, but it’s actually one of the worst winning percentage in the league under those circumstances.

With a win tonight, the Senators would overtake Boston as the holder of the second Wild Card spot. Meanwhile, San Jose is seeking two points to keep its slim playoff hopes alive.