NASHVILLE -- Andrew Hammond waited for his opportunity.
The Colorado Avalanche goalie had a taste of the Stanley Cup Playoffs with the Ottawa Senators in 2015, and wanted to have another.
"You want to play meaningful hockey," Hammond said. "When the games mean more, I try to take my game to another level. Obviously, I was able to do that tonight."
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Thanks to Hammond, the Avalanche continue to play meaningful hockey.
Hammond made an NHL career high 44 saves, and Sven Andrighetto scored the game-winning goal with 1:28 remaining in third period in a 2-1 victory against the Nashville Predators in Game 5 of the Western Conference First Round at Bridgestone Arena on Friday.
The Predators lead the best-of-7 series 3-2, with Game 6 at Pepsi Center on Sunday (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TVAS, SN, ALT, FS-TN).
Much like the Avalanche in this series, Hammond looked confident and didn't buckle under the pressure of facing the Presidents' Trophy-winning Predators. Hammond was mobbed by the Avalanche when he got back to the dressing room.
"We're excited to get another game," Hammond said. "We didn't want this one to be the last one of the season, and I think to a man we did whatever we could to make sure that wasn't the case."
Video: COL@NSH, Gm5: Hammond stops 44 in first playoff win
Hammond started in place of Jonathan Bernier, who sustained a lower-body injury during a 3-2 loss in Game 4. Hammond played the third period of that game, saving all eight shots he faced. Game 5 was Hammond's first start in the playoffs since April 17, 2015, a 3-2 overtime loss with the Senators against the Montreal Canadiens in the Eastern Conference First Round.
Avalanche forward Gabriel Landeskog, who scored the tying goal with 4:11 left in the third period Friday, said, "it was one of the better performances I've seen from a goaltender in a long time." Landeskog was impressed with how Hammond kept his composure after the Predators took a 1-0 lead midway through the third period, a goal by forward Nick Bonino that was originally waved off; the call on the ice was reversed when replays showed no distinct kicking motion.
Hammond made 18 saves on 19 shots in the third period.
"So calm and steady all night long," Landeskog said. "The one they get at the end, it's a tough bounce and good rebound shot that goes off their skate. But even after that, he's so calm and just keeps working, keeps playing. You'd think with a 2-1 lead there with a minute and a half left, they found some scoring chances and he was just so solid. It was fun to see."
Defenseman Mark Barberio said Hammond was, "just awesome, awesome. A high-pressure situation and he looked calm, cool and confident. He's been in pressure situations before, with Ottawa and we knew we were getting an experienced backup goalie. Injuries are part of the game and he gets to step up and play a big part in this series. Now we have more life going back to Denver."
Hammond, who played one regular-season game for the Avalanche, credited his teammates for helping him.
"Obviously, I was seeing it pretty well," he said. "For the most part, I thought guys did a good job letting me see pucks through lanes and boxing out. When it wasn't, you go back to your roots. I'm more of a battler as a goalie than necessarily technically perfect, but you'll take it however it comes."
The Avalanche needed a great performance to stave off the Predators. Hammond supplied that. He wanted to play meaningful hockey again, and he's helped extend the Avalanche's season.
"He comes in, an experienced guy, I loved his demeanor the last couple of days," Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said. "I gained confidence in him just in the way he handled the last couple of days, and the guys did as well. Good for him. He comes in here, the shots were tight and the chances were tight after two [periods] and they opened it up in the third. He was strong.
"I'm proud of him. He waited a long time for this opportunity and he made the most of it."
Video: COL@NSH, Gm5: Hammond talks about his incredible game
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