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At the Rink: Canadiens at Senators

by Chris Stevenson

OTTAWA -- Ottawa Senators goaltender Andrew Hammond will start his first NHL game as the injury-ravaged Senators play the Montreal Canadiens, the first-place team in the Eastern Conference, at Canadian Tire Centre on Wednesday.

Hammond, 27, has played in two NHL games, each in relief.

He replaced Robin Lehner on Monday when Lehner and Senators wing Clarke MacArthur were injured on the same play in a 6-3 loss against the Carolina Hurricanes.

MacArthur collided with Lehner as MacArthur raced back and tried to break up a 3-on-1. They will not play against the Canadiens and Senators coach Dave Cameron said there was no update on their condition Wednesday.

The Senators are already without No. 1 goaltender Craig Anderson, who is out indefinitely with a hand injury.

Chris Driedger, 20, was called up from the Evansville IceMen of the ECHL to back up Hammond.

Cameron said the Senators won't do anything differently with a rookie goaltender making his first start.

"We strive to play the same way all the time. That's what gives you the best chance to win the game. Play to your strengths. Be who you are. No, we're not changing anything," he said.

"It's a pretty exciting time for Andrew, I would think. His first NHL start against a storied franchise. I think he's going to be pumped, big time and I hope we take some of that emotion with us."

Hammond was called up from the Binghamton Senators of the American Hockey League on Jan. 29 when Anderson was injured.

Hammond has only played professionally for two years. He played junior hockey in the British Columbia Hockey League and four years at Bowling Green State University.

"It hasn't been a conventional road for me," he said. "Obviously, I'm a little bit of a late bloomer making my first start at my age. There's a lot of people who kind of brushed me aside when I was younger through junior hockey. I guess you could say I've taken the road few have traveled."

Ottawa wing Bobby Ryan said the Senators will try and keep the heat off the rookie.

"The game plan doesn't change. You're a little more diligent in your systems, I think. He's going into a game in a rivalry of this magnitude. I'm sure he's nervous," he said. "All we can do is be supportive and let him know we'll be there to bail him out as much as we can and try and make him comfortable by getting pucks to the other end of the ice."

Dustin Tokarski will start in goal for the Canadiens, who are 11-3-1 in their past 15 games.

The four losses are against non-playoff teams: regulation losses to the Senators, Arizona Coyotes and Buffalo Sabres, and in overtime Thursday against the Edmonton Oilers.

The Canadiens have held the opposition to two goals or less in 10 of those 15 games.

The Canadiens haven't been getting much production from their bottom-six forwards (just 23 goals combined for the players in those roles), but coach Michel Therrien said they haven't been giving up much either.

"You always want to have more contribution from different players. Our game is a checking game. We take a lot of pride in making sure we're a good checking team. Regarding that, they're doing a good job. They're buying into it," Therrien said.

"We're a team that doesn't want to allow a lot of goals. Lots of times, it's not how many goals you score, it's if you are responsible (defensively), and those guys are doing a really good job of being good checkers, being on the right side of the puck. They don't cheat. Eventually, they're going to get rewarded."

Here are the projected lineups:


Max PaciorettyDavid Desharnais- Dale Weise

Alex GalchenyukTomas PlekanecBrendan Gallagher

Lars EllerJacob De La RoseBrandon Prust

Jiri SekacMichael BournivalChristian Thomas

Andrei MarkovP.K. Subban

Nathan BeaulieuGreg Pateryn

Alexei EmelinTom Gilbert

Dustin Tokarski

Carey Price

Scratched: Mike Weaver, Manny Malhotra

Injured: PA Parenteau (concussion), Sergei Gonchar (upper body)


Milan Michalek- Kyle TurrisMark Stone

Mike HoffmanMika Zibanejad - Bobby Ryan

Shane Prince- David LegwandAlex Chiasson

Erik CondraJean-Gabriel PageauCurtis Lazar

Marc Methot - Erik Karlsson

Jared Cowen - Cody Ceci

Mark Borowiecki - Eric Gryba

Andrew Hammond

Chris Driedger

Scratched: Patrick Wiercioch

Injured: Craig Anderson (hand), Robin Lehner (undisclosed), Clarke MacArthur (undisclosed),

Chris Phillips (undisclosed), Zack Smith (wrist), Chris Neil (thumb)

Status report: Therrien said the makeup of his third and fourth lines would be a game-time decision. With Sekac going in for Malhotra, he could play Sekac on the third line and bump Prust down to the fourth line. Eller could be moved back to center. … With MacArthur out, Michalek goes back to playing with Turris and Stone, where he's had some success lately, and Pageau, called up from Binghamton, goes into the lineup as the fourth line center between Condra and Lazar.

Who's hot: Karlsson has a goal and six assists in his past four games. … Hoffman has three goals and two assists in his past four games. … Zibanejad has a goal and three assists in his past three games. … Plekanec has two goals and three assists in his past four games. … Subban has four assists in his past four games.

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