Rookie goaltender Andrew Hammond is doing his best to keep the Ottawa Senators' playoff hopes alive.
Hammond made 25 saves Wednesday for his first NHL shutout and third victory in as many games, and the Senators defeated the Pacific Division-leading Anaheim Ducks 3-0.
The Senators turned to Hammond, a 27-year-old who had never started an NHL game until last week, after injuries sidelined starter Craig Anderson and backup Robin Lehner. He responded by leading Ottawa to home victories against the Montreal Canadiens and Florida Panthers before helping the Senators win the opener of a five-game road trip.
"I didn't see it coming," Hammond told TSN when asked about his sudden success. "When you get thrust into action, you've got to make the best of it. I'm just having fun with it. I'm enjoying every moment."
Hammond has made saves on 88 of 91 shots in the three victories; he's the first goaltender in Senators history to win his first three NHL starts in three consecutive games. He got the third victory while playing in front of his parents.
"This is the first time they've been able to see me in the NHL in person," he said. "It's pretty cool to have them here for that moment."
Hammond got some help from his teammates, who blocked 16 shots, cleared rebounds and generally did a good job giving him a clear look at the shooters.
"When all you have to do is make the first stop, it's a lot easier," he said.
The three-game winning streak is the longest for the Senators since they won four in a row after a season-opening loss to the Nashville Predators.
Erik Condra, Mika Zibanejad and Kyle Turris scored for Ottawa (25-23-10), which moved within seven points of the Boston Bruins, who hold the second Eastern Conference wild-card position for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Senators have two games in hand on the Bruins.
John Gibson made 31 saves for the Ducks, who have a 10-point lead on the second-place Vancouver Canucks in their division. Anaheim was shut out for the third time this season and had its three-game winning streak come to an end.
"That team outworked us and outplayed us," Ducks defenseman Cam Fowler said. "We gave up too many opportunities to shoot. We can't play like that."
The loss came two days after an emotional 4-3 shootout win against the Detroit Red Wings on Monday in which the Ducks overcame a two-goal deficit in the third period, and two days before the Los Angeles Kings come to Honda Center after hosting the Senators on Thursday.
"We can't wait until the third period before we decide to play," coach Bruce Boudreau said. "We let them take the play to us. We were out-battled and out-competed.
"We weren't looking ahead. We were playing a team that's playing great right now. We face a super test Friday. We better pull our heads out of our butts or it's not going to be pretty."
Ryan Kesler had a chance to give the Ducks the lead 9:35 into the game, but Hammond robbed him at the right post. Ottawa then took the lead for good less than 90 seconds later when Eric Gryba stepped into a slap shot at the right point that hit Condra's leg and deflected into the net at 10:57. It was Condra's seventh goal and extended his point streak to five games.
Zibanejad got to the front of the net and made it 2-0 for the Senators at 3:23 of the second period. He got position on Kesler in front and popped in the rebound of Mike Hoffman's bad-angled shot from the left circle for his 15th goal.
Hammond made perhaps his best stop of the night 7:20 into the third period when he got his left pad on Corey Perry's wide-open shot from well inside the right circle. He also stopped Hampus Lindholm from the slot and made a left-pad save on Andrew Cogliano's rebound attempt with eight minutes remaining.
"We didn't execute," forward Kyle Palmieri said. "We didn't play well. They wanted it more than we did. Our forecheck was kind of lackadaisical, and we didn't get to rebounds."
Turris hit the empty net with 6.4 seconds remaining.
Forward Jiri Sekac, acquired by the Ducks in a trade with the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday, made his debut with Anaheim. He had one shot on goal and was minus-1 in 14:35.
Linesman Steve Miller left the game at 14:25 of the first period after being hit in the face with a stick after a faceoff. The game continued with three officials until Miller returned for the start of the third period.