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Senators remain confident in Hammond for Game 2

by Chris Stevenson

MONTREAL -- During Andrew Hammond's remarkable 23-game run to spark the Ottawa Senators to an improbable berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, he allowed four or more goals in a game twice.

He gave up four in the second period of the Senators' 4-3 loss to the Montreal Canadiens on Wednesday at Bell Centre in Game 1 of their best-of-7 Eastern Conference First Round series.

The goals were less a reflection on the play of the 27-year-old goaltender, who was making his playoff debut, and more about the performance of the Senators in front of him.

"We weren't good enough in front of him," Ottawa coach Dave Cameron said said. "I have no trouble with my goaltending whatsoever."

Hammond faced 19 shots in a wide-open second period. Torrey Mitchell and Brian Flynn scored on strong plays down low, Tomas Plekanec beat Hammond on an odd-man rush, and Lars Eller scored on a shorthanded breakaway.

Hammond, who lost for the second time in regulation in 24 regular-season and playoff starts, made 35 saves.

"I felt OK," Hammond said. "You want to make that next save in the second period, and I wasn't able to do that tonight. I guess in the big picture, for 60 minutes, I thought I was pretty decent.

"I thought it was a pretty good first period for being on the road and trying to get our feet under us. I guess in the second period the wheels kind of fell off a little bit. We just seemed to give them a few lanes to the net, and they were able to bury them."

Senators forward Clarke MacArthur agreed Hammond was a victim of some loose play in front of him.

Andrew Hammond
Goalie - OTT
GAA: 4.07 | SVP: .897
"[Hammond's] been great. We gave up a 2-on-0 and breakaways, things that were uncharacteristic of us in the last two months," he said. "Those things are going to happen. You can't win the series in one game. We'll come back and be ready to go."

Hammond gave Montreal credit, but said the Canadiens' second-period surge was as much about what the Senators didn't do.

"Absolutely," he said. "You look at those chances in the second period, and it [wasn't] so much them maybe earning it. I thought we gave them too much time and space. They're a good team. They're going to create things when you do that. If we do better limiting their time and getting bodies between them and the net, I think we'll do a much better job in the rest of the series."

The Bell Centre crowd was quick to get on Hammond, mockingly chanting his name, but Hammond said he had been waiting a long time to be immersed in the atmosphere of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"I thought it made it more fun to play," he said. "It wasn't something that rattled me or anything like that. It's the experience that you grow up watching that you want to be a part of and it's special to be a part of it finally."

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