SENATORS (17-11-5) at LIGHTNING (16-14-3)
TV: RDS2, SUN, TSN5
TAMPA -- Ottawa Senators goalie Andrew Hammond will get a crucial spot start against the Tampa Bay Lightning at Amalie Arena on Sunday (5 p.m. ET; RDS2, SUN, TSN5).
Hammond helped the Senators qualify for the Stanley Cup playoffs last season with his play down the stretch. But "The Hamburglar" is 2-1-2 this season after a 2-1 loss to the Washington Capitals on Dec. 16 with Craig Anderson having taken hold of the No. 1 goalie position.
"[Anderson's] earned the privilege to be the guy on this team," Hammond told the Ottawa Sun. "I think he's one of the big reasons we're sitting where we are right now at this point. If he needs a night off or a chance to rest, obviously I'll be ready and willing to help the team."
As the season approaches the midway point, Ottawa starts an important two-game stretch against the Lightning and Florida Panthers as all three teams are within four points of each other. The Senators and Panthers currently hold the two wild-card spots in the Eastern Conference.
But Ottawa (17-11-5) hasn't had much success against Tampa Bay (16-14-3) when goalie Ben Bishop is in net. Bishop has faced the Senators 10 times since being traded from them for center Cory Conacher in 2013. Bishop has won seven of the 10 games (7-0-3).
Bishop had 30 saves in a 4-1 against the Senators on Dec. 10.
"I know a lot of guys over there and it's always fun to play against your buddies," Bishop said about his success against Ottawa. "I don't know...the success...where that comes from but it's always fun to get a chance to play against your old team."
Tampa Bay went 2-1-0 on a three-game road trip last week but gave up three power-play goals in a 5-3 loss to the Capitals on Friday. The Lightning led 3-0 in the game before the special-teams breakdowns cost them points on the road.
"We've got to get back to a little bit of discipline there and play a little smarter," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said in his post-game press conference. "We've had some games of late here where we've penalties in the third and had to kill them off, unfortunately if you're going to keep going that you're bound not to kill them all off."
Here are the projected lineups:
Mike Hoffman– Mika Zibanejad – Bobby Ryan
Zack Smith – Kyle Turris – Mark Stone
Dave Dziurzynski – Jean-Gabriel Pageau – Alex Chiasson
Shane Prince – Curtis Lazar – Chris Neil
Marc Methot - Erik Karlsson
Patrick Wiercioch - Cody Ceci
Mark Borowiecki – Chris Wideman
Injured: Chris Phillips (back), Clarke MacArthur (concussion), Milan Michalek (finger)
Scratched: Jared Cowen
Vladislav Namestnikov - Steven Stamkos - Nikita Kucherov
Nikita Nesterov - Valtteri Filppula - Ryan Callahan
Alex Killorn - Brian Boyle - Jonathan Marchessault
Mike Blunden - Erik Condra - Yanni Gourde
Victor Hedman - Anton Stralman
Jason Garrison - Andrej Sustr
Matthew Carle - Braydon Coburn
Injured: Ondrej Palat (undisclosed), Tyler Johnson (undisclosed), Jonathan Drouin (lower body), Joel Vermin (hand surgery) Cedric Paquette (upper body), J.T. Brown (upper body)
Scratched: Mike Angelidis, Tanner Richard
Status Report: Callahan will play after missing practice Saturday, but Brown is day-to-day with an upper-body injury.. ... The Lightning recalled Richard from Syracuse of the American Hockey League and Angelidis or Nesterov could move to the lineup. ...Ottawa participated in a lightly-attended optional skate Sunday morning and no lineup changes are expected. ...Condra practiced Friday and is expected to return to the lineup.
Who's Hot: Ryan had a goal and an assist in a 4-2 win over San Jose on Friday. ... Sustr played a career-high 21:15 and scored his first goal of the season against the Capitals on Friday.