Goalie Nods: Anderson returns for Ottawa

Anderson makes his first start in over a month

Craig Anderson will make his first start since Jan. 21 when the Ottawa Senators play host to the Calgary Flames tonight. Anderson suffered a bruise to his blocker hand during a 4-3 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs and hasn’t played since. The 33-year-old is 13-11-7 this season to go along with a 2.37 G.A.A. and a .927 save percentage.

Karri Ramo gets the nod for the Flames.

Elsewhere…

Oilers at Hurricanes: Richard Bachman vs. Cam Ward

Flyers at Devils: Steve Mason vs. Keith Kinkaid

Avalanche at Wild: Semyon Varlamov vs. Devan Dubnyk (unconfirmed)

Rangers at Blackhawks: Cam Talbot vs. Corey Crawford

Report: No contract talks between the Sens and Hammond

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The Ottawa Senators will hold off on contract negotiations with goaltender Andrew Hammond until after the season.

According to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, the Sens don’t want to “pollute” the 27-year-old with contract talks. Friedman spoke on the subject during the Headlines segment on Hockey Night in Canada:

He’s a restricted free agent after this season. He’s a great story. You just check. Are they talking at all to extend him? The answer is no. They don’t want to pollute, was the word I heard, everything that’s going on right now. Don’t bring contract talks into it. They’ll wait until after the season.

Hammond is 7-0-1 with a .954 save percentage and a 1.43 goals-against average in nine games this season helping Ottawa get to within five points of the second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference.

Prior to joining the Sens, Hammond was 7-13-2 in 25 AHL games posting a 3.51 GAA and an .898 save percentage.

Sabres’ Johnson could be done for the season

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Goaltender Chad Johnson didn’t even get into a game for the Buffalo Sabres yet his season could be over.

The 28-year-old, who was acquired by the Sabres from the New York Islanders on Monday, suffered a lower body injury during the team’s morning skate on Friday and did not dress against the Ottawa Senators.

“Chad, unfortunately, hurt something lower body and he’ll be out for a while,” coach Ted Nolan said per The Buffalo News. “Not day-to-day, it’ll be for a while.”

The Sabres recalled Andrey Makarov and the 21-year-old backed-up Anders Lindback in the 3-2 loss to the Sens.

With 17 games left in the season, could Johnson’s injury be season-ending?

“It possibly could be,” Nolan said. “We’ll get our doctors to look at him, and we’ll see what happens.”

Johnson was 8-8-1 with a 3.08 G.A.A. and an .889 save percentage in 19 games with the Islanders prior to the trade.

Goalie nods: Dubnyk to make 23rd straight start

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All the latest from the blue paint…

Devan stays busy

More of the same for Minnesota tonight — Devan Dubnyk will start when the Wild take on the Hurricanes in Carolina.

Tonight will mark Dubnyk’s 23rd straight start, a stretch in which he’s showed zero signs of fatigue or slowing down. He’s gone 17-3-1 during his time with the Wild, posting a 1.62 GAA, .939 save percentage and five shutouts.

At this stage — given his stellar play and heavy workload — one has to wonder if Dubnyk could slide into Vezina contention as one of the three finalists. The only category he’s not among the league leaders is wins (26), but is tied for 10th overall, which isn’t too shabby.

For Carolina, Anton Khudobin will be in goal.

Elsewhere…

Jackets at Devils: Sergei Bobrovsky vs. Cory Schneider

Sabres at Sens: Chad Johnson vs. Andrew Hammond

Flames at Wings: Jonas Hiller vs. Jimmy Howard

Oilers at ‘Hawks: Ben Scrivens vs. Corey Crawford

Pens at Ducks: Marc-Andre Fleury (probable) vs. Frederik Andersen (probable)

Playoff watch — what the bubble teams need to do

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Using Sports Club Stats, here are the records each bubble team needs down the stretch to earn a better-than-50-percent shot of making the playoffs…

Eastern Conference (four bubble teams, one spot available)

Boston Bruins — 8-7-4
Ottawa Senators — 12-5-3
Florida Panthers — 11-4-2
Philadelphia Flyers — 12-3-2

Andrew Hammond and the Senators continued their roll this week, earning three out of a possible four points in two tough places to play, Minnesota and Winnipeg. Meanwhile, the Bruins had just one game (a shootout loss to Calgary) and the Panthers failed to beat a pair of non-playoff teams, Toronto and Dallas, at home. The Sens, one of the NHL’s hottest teams, appear to be the Bruins’ biggest threat now. Ottawa returns home to face Buffalo tonight, Calgary Sunday, then, after those two winnable games, the B’s come to town for a big contest Tuesday. Ottawa and Boston play twice down the stretch.

Western Conference (eight bubble teams, four spots available)

Vancouver Canucks — 7-8-3
Minnesota Wild — 7-9-2
Calgary Flames — 8-7-3
Los Angeles Kings — 10-8-0
Winnipeg Jets — 9-8-0
San Jose Sharks — 9-4-4
Colorado Avalanche — 13-3-2
Dallas Stars — 13-3-1

A bad week for the Jets, who only played once and lost at home to aforementioned Ottawa. Meanwhile, the Wild and Kings each won twice. As a result, Winnipeg’s playoff chances fell from 77.2 percent on Sunday to 53.7 percent today. On top of that, the Jets’ next four games are all on the road, in Nashville, St. Louis, Florida and Tampa Bay. Like the Jets, the Canucks also lost ground, getting smoked at home by San Jose then failing to beat an Arizona team that had lost 10 straight in regulation. Big game tomorrow between the Canucks and Sharks in San Jose. Oh, and welcome back to the list, Dallas. The Stars climbed back over the 1-percent chance mark with two wins this week.