SENATORS (16-10-5) at CAPITALS (21-6-2)
TV: TVA Sports, SN, CSN-DC+
WASHINGTON -- Ottawa Senators goalie Andrew Hammond will start against the Washington Capitals at Verizon Center on Wednesday.
Hammond hasn’t played since Nov. 12, when he sustained a concussion against the Vancouver Canucks.
“I don’t feel like I have any nerves,” Hammond said. “It’s just excited to get going again. It’s another game and a really good challenge against the best team in our conference right now.”
In 29 NHL games, Hammond has a 22-1-4 record, but he isn’t concerned with preserving his record so much as proving the Senators can compete with the Capitals, who lead the Eastern Conference with 44 points.
“I think anytime you’re playing the teams that you’re chasing, it’s more or less a measuring stick for your group,” Hammond said. “We believe in ourselves in this room, but they’re [Washington] kind of the team that’s proven it so far this season that they’re able to do it night in and night out. That’s really what we’re aspiring to be right now.”
Senators coach Dave Cameron said the game plan against the Capitals is simple, and echoed Hammond’s admission that the Senators have a little something to prove.
“We have to play positional, we have to be physical, we have to execute,” Cameron said. “Doesn’t matter if it’s the Capitals or any other NHL team, for us to have the best chance to win, those are things we’ve got to do. The best teams, they’re going to make you do it longer.”
Capitals forward Michael Latta will replace Stanlislav Galiev in the lineup.
“I think he’ll do a good job,” Capitals coach Barry Trotz said. “With Ottawa, they’ve got a few physical players, and they’re real dynamic on the rush and have a fantastic defenseman on the back end.”
The defenseman Trotz is referring to is Erik Karlsson, who has 34 points in 31 games this season.
Here are the projected lineups:
Mike Hoffman - Mika Zibanejad - Bobby Ryan
Zack Smith -Kyle Turris - Mark Stone
Dave Dziurzynski - Jean-Gabriel Pageau - Alex Chiasson
Marc Methot - Erik Karlsson
Patrick Wiercioch - Cody Ceci
Jared Cowen - Chris Wideman/Mark Borowiecki
Injured: Chris Phillips (back), Milan Michalek (finger), Clarke MacArthur (concussion)
Scratched: Shane Prince, Curtis Lazar, Chris Neil,
Alex Ovechkin - Nicklas Backstrom - T.J. Oshie
Marcus Johansson - Evgeny Kuznetsov - Justin Williams
Jason Chimera - Jay Beagle - Tom Wilson
Brooks Laich- Michael Latta - Andre Burakovsky
Nate Schmidt - John Carlson
Matt Niskanen - Karl Alzner
Dmitry Orlov - Taylor Chorney
Injured: Brooks Orpik (lower body)
Scratched: Stanislav Galiev, Chris Brown, Aaron Ness
Status update: Orpik is no longer skating with the team, but the Capitals have no update on his lower-body injury.
Who’s hot: Hoffman has 30 points in 27 games … Carlson has four points in his past three games.