Chris Driedger

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The Buzzer: Rantanen dominates in return; Driedger gets shutout in first start

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Three Stars

1. Mikko Rantanen, Colorado Avalanche. After being sidelined for more than a month Rantanen returned to the Avalanche lineup on Saturday and picked right up where he left off, recording four points in a complete destruction of the Chicago Blackhawks. He is now up to 16 points in 10 games this season, and with him back in the lineup the Avalanche dominant duo of Rantanen and Nathan MacKinnon is going to start taking over games again. They are still without Gabriel Landeskog but have managed to keep piling up points thanks to the brilliance of MacKinnon and the improved depth throughout the roster. Given all of the salary cap space they still have they are going to have a chance to add a major piece before the trade deadline and be a force in the Western Conference playoffs. Joonas Donskoi also had four points for the Avalanche on Saturday, while MacKinnon added three. This game also featured one of the most random and unexpected fights of the season when Chicago’s Alex DeBrincat squared off against Colorado defenseman Samuel Girard.

2. Chris Driedger, Florida Panthers. With big-money free agent Sergei Bobrovsky off to a terrible start this season, the Panthers turned to the 25-year-old Driedger for his first career start on Saturday against the Nashville Predators. He made quite an impact turning aside all 27 shots he faced as the Panthers began a nine-game homestand. Before Saturday Driedger had only made three relief appearances (all with the Ottawa Senators) in his very brief NHL career.

3. Tanner Pearson, Vancouver Canucks. The Canucks have been waiting for some of their depth players to make an impact offensively this season, and it has finally started to happen over the past couple of games. Pearson had a huge game in their 5-2 win over the Edmonton Oilers, scoring two goals and adding two assists. Unlike Wednesday’s game in Pittsburgh, they were able to hold on to this three-goal third period lead to snap what had been a brief two-game losing streak.

Other notable performances from Saturday

  • Alex Ovechkin became just the fifth player in NHL history to record 15 consecutive 20-goal seasons to begin a career. He also moved into 10th place all-time with his 24th career hat trick. Read all about it here.
  • Thomas Greiss and Semyon Varlamov teamed up for a shutout for the New York Islanders as they beat the Columbus Blue Jackets. The Blue Jackets were one of four teams to lose a defenseman to injury on Saturday.
  • The Toronto Maple Leafs won for the fourth time in five games under new coach Sheldon Keefe thanks to a John Tavares overtime winner against the Buffalo Sabres.
  • Alexandar Georgiev stopped all 33 shots he faced for the New York Rangers in a 4-0 win over their arch-rivals, the New Jersey Devils.
  • Big night for Calgary Flames forward Elias Lindholm as he scored two goals, giving him 14 on the season, in a 3-1 win over the Ottawa Senators.
  • Defenseman Justin Faulk scored his first goal as a member of the St. Louis Blues in a 5-2 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins.
  • Logan Couture scored two goals for the San Jose Sharks as they erased an early two-goal deficit to beat the Arizona Coyotes by a 4-2 margin.
  • Jack Campbell was outstanding for the Los Angeles Kings, stopping 32 out of 33 shots in a 2-1 win over the Winnipeg Jets.

Highlights of the Night

Ivan Provorov lifted the Philadelphia Flyers to a 4-3 overtime win against the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday with this incredible goal in the extra period.

Rangers chase Sens’ Hammond, who may be hurt

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Expect a new set of hamburger jokes tonight (some of the cringe-inducing variety*), as Ottawa Senators phenom Andrew Hammond’s storybook season hit a bump in the road named the New York Rangers.

At the moment, the Rangers are up 5-1, and that was enough for “The Hamburglar” to get pulled from the Senators’ net. (At least he’s not alone tonight.)

Hammond allowed five goals on 22 shots before getting taken out late in the second period. Perhaps seeing Tanner Glass score against Hammond was the last straw?

Chris Driedger took over for Hammond. The 20-year-old is seeing his first night of NHL action in relief.

Unfortunately, his last name is nowhere near as friendly to nicknaming. Maybe a Darren Dreger reference or two?

Update: The Rangers ended up winning 5-1, while this disturbing image hangs over Ottawa’s season:

Uh oh.

* – Raises hand.

More Sens goalie drama as Anderson re-injures hand

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The Hamburglar just got a little more job security.

On Tuesday, Ottawa announced that Craig Anderson has re-aggravated his hand injury and Chris Driedger has been recalled from ECHL Evansville on an emergency basis.

The transaction means that Andrew “The Hamburglar” Hammond will start once again for the Sens in Carolina tonight and, barring a dramatic turn of events, won’t be leaving the Ottawa crease anytime soon.

It’s an interesting development, to say the least.

Anderson, who missed all of February dealing with his hand injury, returned briefly to the Ottawa net in mid-March while Hammond was in the midst of his incredible hot streak (he’s 10-0-1 heading into tonight’s play.)

Anderson started two games, including a crucial tilt against Boston on Mar. 10 — one the Sens needed to get back into playoff contention. Per head coach Dave Cameron, Anderson gave Ottawa “the best chance to win,” even though Hammond had been virtually unbeatable.

The Sens lost that game, 3-1, and Anderson hasn’t played since.

Ottawa will be a team to watch down the stretch, especially this week. The Sens head into tonight’s action just five points back of Boston with a game in hand, and will take on the Bruins at home on Thursday in a massive game for their postseason chances.