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At the Rink: Devils at Senators

by Chris Stevenson / NHL.com

OTTAWA -- Ottawa Senators goaltender Andrew Hammond will make his first start of the season and try and end the Senators' two-game losing streak Thursday when the Senators play the New Jersey Devils at Canadian Tire Centre (7 p.m. ET; RDS, TSN5, MSG+).

Hammond went 20-1-2 with a 1.74 goals-against average and .942 save percentage in 24 games last season and was one of the heroes of the Senators' (3-2-1) late-season surge to earn a place in the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs. He missed the end of training camp and the beginning of the regular season because of a groin injury.

"It'll be good to kind of get it out of the way and get started on the right foot," Hammond said. "I think it's been a long time coming to get back in the net. I'm excited."

The big question is can Hammond pick up where he left off last season.

"My focus is on just being the best goalie I can be each night," he said. "The way it unfolded last year, it unfolded in a special way. My focus is on winning as many games as I can. There's always pressure. But I don't think it's escalated or anything like that. The organization and myself, our only expectation is for me to be the best me I can be. That's all you can really ask."

Senators defenseman Mark Borowiecki said Hammond proved to his teammates he's an NHL goaltender.

"Is he going to win 24 games straight? Probably not," Borowiecki said. "But the guy's an NHL goalie. Anybody who doubted him, he proved that last year. The tear he went on there, he was a huge reason for us having that late-season push and success. He's a professional. He works hard in practice every day. He takes care of himself. There's nothing that would make me think he's not able to pick up the slack for us and we're all really confident in him."

The Devils (2-3-1) won their past two games and have earned points in their past three (2-0-1) after starting the season with three losses.

"I think you see now there are things that are more automatic just in the way that we want to play," Devils coach John Hynes said. "We're able to play a faster game because guys aren't caught in between, whether that's in our neutral zone transition or our forecheck. That's allowed us to play more on the offensive side of it. That always breeds confidence with your team."

Forward Mike Cammalleri said the Devils need to keep playing like they have in their past three games.

"We like some things we're doing and yielding some results is always a positive," Cammalleri

said. "We'll keep working on it. I don't know if we're in a groove quite yet. But we'd like to find that groove."

Here are the projected lineups:

DEVILS

Mike Cammalleri - Adam Henrique - Lee Stempniak

Jiri Tlusty - Travis Zajac - Kyle Palmieri

Brian O'Neill - Jacob Josefson - Jordin Tootoo

Stefan Matteau - Sergey Kalinin - Stephen Gionta

Andy Greene - Adam Larsson

John Moore - Damon Severson

Eric Gelinas - David Schlemko

Cory Schneider

Keith Kinkaid

Injured: Tuomo Ruutu (lower body), Patrik Elias (knee)

Scratched: Jon Merrill

SENATORS

Mike Hoffman - Kyle Turris - Mark Stone

Milan Michalek - Mika Zibanejad - Bobby Ryan

Alex Chiasson - Jean-Gabriel Pageau - Curtis Lazar

Shane Prince - Zack Smith - Chris Neil

Mark Borowiecki - Erik Karlsson

Patrick Wiercioch - Cody Ceci

Jared Cowen - Chris Wideman

Andrew Hammond

Craig Anderson

Injured: Chris Phillips (back), Clarke MacArthur (concussion), Marc Methot (concussion)

Scratched: None

Status report: MacArthur will miss his third straight game and is out indefinitely. … Methot, who will miss his second game, took part in the morning skate and could play Saturday. … Neil will play his 900th NHL game. … Hynes said Ruutu's injury is a bruise expects his absence to be short-term. "It's touch-and-go, day-to-day, just based on how he's feeling," Hynes said. … Schneider is looking for his 100th NHL win (99-73-30).

Who's hot: Cammalleri and Stempniak each have a goal and an assist in the past two games. … Karlsson has eight assists in six games. … The Senators' top line of Hoffman, Turris and Stone has combined for nine goals and 14 assists in six games.

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