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Senators aim to keep playoff hopes alive

Ottawa starts Hammond, needs win at Winnipeg and help to avoid elimination

by Patrick Williams / NHL.com Correspondent

SENATORS (34-33-9) at JETS (31-38-7)

TV: 7:30 p.m. ET; SN, TVA Sports, NHL.TV

WINNIPEG -- Goaltender Andrew Hammond and the rest of the Ottawa Senators will attempt to keep their Stanley Cup Playoff hopes alive when they visit the Winnipeg Jets at MTS Centre on Wednesday.

A loss of any kind Wednesday would eliminate the Senators from playoff contention, as would a win of any kind by the Philadelphia Flyers against the Washington Capitals in their game at Wells Fargo Center (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN360). Ottawa is 10 points out of the second wild card into the playoffs from the Eastern Conference with five games remaining. This starts a stretch of three road games in four days for the Senators.

"[Hammond] is going to get some playing time the rest of the [season] here, so it will be a good opportunity for him to get some consistent ice time to see what he can do and get some kind of rhythm going," goaltending coach Rick Wamsley told TSN 1200 on Tuesday.

Defenseman Patrick Wiercioch (undisclosed) skated Tuesday after missing seven games, but he will not dress.

With the status of forward Chris Thorburn (undisclosed) uncertain, Winnipeg recalled forward Chase De Leo from Manitoba of the American Hockey League on an emergency basis. However, Thorburn is expected to play.

"We want to get him back to the rink [later]," coach Paul Maurice said of Thorburn. "His morning skate was pretty good. He wasn't feeling great [Tuesday], but he is feeling much better [Wednesday], so we'll see how he comes back and gets into the [warmup]."

Winnipeg was eliminated from playoff contention last week and is winding down its schedule with its final three home games this week.

"We're making the best of it," forward Drew Stafford said. "You play to make the playoffs and be in the mix, and unfortunately this [season] hasn't gone the way we wanted it to, but we're still doing our best to show up every day, put the work in, be professional and find ways to get better."

Goaltender Michael Hutchinson will start as Maurice continues his goaltending rotation.

Here are the projected lineups:

SENATORS
Zack Smith - Jean-Gabriel Pageau - Mark Stone
Mike Hoffman - Mika Zibanejad - Alex Chiasson
Ryan Dzingel - Nick Paul - Bobby Ryan
Matt Puempel - Curtis Lazar - Chris Neil

Fredrik Claesson - Erik Karlsson
Marc Methot - Cody Ceci
Michael Kostka - Chris Wideman

Andrew Hammond
Craig Anderson

Injured: Mark Borowiecki (knee), Clarke MacArthur (concussion), Dion Phaneuf (lower body), Chris Phillips (back), Kyle Turris (ankle), Patrick Wiercioch (undisclosed)
Scratched: Scott Gomez

JETS
Nikolaj Ehlers - Mark Scheifele - Blake Wheeler
Marko Dano- Alexander Burmistrov - Drew Stafford
Chris Thorburn - Adam Lowry - Matt Halischuk
Nic Petan - Andrew Copp - Joel Armia

Ben Chiarot - Dustin Byfuglien
Mark Stuart - Jacob Trouba
Julian Melchiori - Paul Postma

Michael Hutchinson
Ondrej Pavelec

Injured: Grant Clitsome (back), Toby Enstrom (knee), JC Lipon (undisclosed), Bryan Little (neck), Tyler Myers (hip, knee), Anthony Peluso (upper body), Mathieu Perreault (concussion)
Scratched: Chase De Leo, Brandon Tanev

Status report: Little participated in the morning skate. He will not play against Ottawa, but is a possibility to dress before the end of the season if he is completely healthy. "It's going to be the doctor's call, but the line on that is 100 percent [healthy] and not shorter," Maurice said. Winnipeg signed Tanev to a one-year, two-way contract for the remainder of the season Wednesday. Tanev will not face Ottawa, but Maurice said that he wants to see him play before the end of the season.

Who's hot: Karlsson has a three-game point streak (one goal, two assists). … Wheeler has a five-game point streak (two goals, four assists). Scheifele has a four-game point streak (two goals, four assists).

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