SENATORS (26-23-10) at SHARKS (30-24-8)
TV: SN, TVA Sports 2, CSN-CA
SAN JOSE - Ottawa Senators goaltender Andrew Hammond will try to extend his four-game winning streak and two-game shutout streak when he faces the struggling San Jose Sharks at SAP Center on Saturday.
Hammond has won the first four starts of his NHL career and is coming off of back-to-back shutouts against the Anaheim Ducks and Los Angeles Kings. He hasn't allowed a goal since the 7:38 mark of the first period Saturday against the Florida Panthers, a shutout streak of 172:22.
Hammond said he's enjoying the amazing ride, but trying to stay focused.
"Obviously people are very happy for me and they want to congratulate me, and I do hear stuff," Hammond said. "You want to enjoy it but at the same time you need to kind of limit the noise and stay focused on the task at hand. I think throughout this whole kind of few games here I've been able to do that. I don't see anything changing. I think for me it's just preparing the same way and going through the same routines I do on game days and practice days and just doing what got me here."
Hammond, 27, was recalled from Binghamton of the American Hockey League on Jan. 29 after No. 1 goaltender Craig Anderson sustained a hand injury. Backup goaltender Robin Lehner started nine straight games before joining Anderson on injured reserve with a concussion, opening the door for Hammond, who has helped Ottawa climb back into contention for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Hammond had been struggling this season at Binghamton after winning 25 games in 2013-14.
"I played with him for a full year in [Binghamton], and I know what he can do down there, and he's just doing it up here," Senators defenseman Mark Borowiecki said. "Obviously not having the year he wanted in the American League right now, but last year I saw him backstop us to a lot of big wins, and it's nice to see him get that going up here.
"I don't think anyone expects that, two shutouts. Beat some pretty good hockey clubs, but it's a testament to the kind of player he is and the kind of person he is. We always laugh and say he's the most normal goalie we've ever met. He's just a good guy, pretty easy to cheer for. We're all super happy for him."
During his four-game winning streak, Hammond has stopped 123 of 126 shots he's faced. He made 35 saves against the Kings and 25 against the Ducks.
The Sharks don't know much about Hammond, but Tommy Wingels faced him in college while playing for Miami of Ohio against Bowling Green.
"You see the success he's had up here in a short amount of time," Wingels said. "He's a pretty good goalie. You don't go into Anaheim and L.A., give up zero goals. I think it's a lot the way their team's playing, but certainly him backstopping it is a huge, huge part of why they're doing well obviously.
"Just make it difficult for him, especially a young guy that's having success. See how he reacts to some traffic, see how he reacts to an early goal, that kind of stuff. We'll try to make it difficult for him early on and go from there."
The Sharks, Wingels said, have bigger problems than facing Hammond. They've lost seven straight home games and are 3-6-1 in their past 10 games. With 20 games left to play, San Jose has 68 points and trails the Minnesota Wild by three points in the race for the Western Conference's second wild-card playoff spot.
"We know he's had success, but there are a lot of other things that are on our minds that we need to focus on," Wingels said. "Just getting back to how we can play. There are things we can control in this game and there's things we can't. Work ethic, a sense of desperation, winning your battles, those things are things that individuals can control. For us to have success and win, that's what we have to focus on."
Sharks forward Tye McGinn was activated from injured reserve and will be in the lineup and skate on the fourth line after missing 12 games because of a head injury. To make room for McGinn on the active roster, the Sharks reassigned rookie forward Chris Tierney to Worcester of the American Hockey League.
"I'm feeling good," McGinn said. "Happy to be back out there."
Andrew Desjardins, who was a healthy scratch against Detroit, will return to the lineup and center the fourth line.
"They play hard, and just like the rest of us in our organization, they're fighting for their hockey lives," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said of McGinn and Desjardin. "If they approach this game that way, that would be a great way of doing it. They would be hungry and can be very effective."
Here are the projected lineups:
Mike Hoffman - Mika Zibanejad - Bobby Ryan
Milan Michalek - Kyle Turris - Mark Stone
Colin Greening - David Legwand - Alex Chiasson
Erik Condra - Jean-Gabriel Pageau - Matt Puempel
Marc Methot - Erik Karlsson
Patrick Wiercioch - Cody Ceci
Mark Borowiecki - Eric Gryba
Suspended: Jared Cowen
Injured: Zack Smith (wrist), Craig Anderson (hand), Chris Neil (thumb), Clarke MacArthur (concussion), Robin Lehner (concussion), Chris Phillips (soreness), Curtis Lazar (illness)
Tomas Hertl - Joe Thornton - Joe Pavelski
Patrick Marleau - Logan Couture - Melker Karlsson
Tommy Wingels - James Sheppard - Matt Nieto
Tye McGinn - Andrew Desjardins - Barclay Goodrow
Marc-Edouard Vlasic - Brent Burns
Brenden Dillon - Justin Braun
Matt Irwin - Scott Hannan
Scratched: Tyler Kennedy, John Scott, Mirco Mueller
Injured: Raffi Torres (knee), Mike Brown (right leg)
Status report: The Sharks had an optional morning skate, but McLellan might shake up his top three lines, with Hertl moving from the third to the first line, Karlsson dropping to the second and Wingels going from the second to the third. ... Brown skated with the team for the first time since being injured on Dec. 9 against the Edmonton Oilers and said he is making progress, but is not healthy enough to play. ... Senators coach Dave Cameron said Lazar wasn't feeling well Saturday morning and won't play. Puempel, who was a healthy scratch against Los Angeles, will replace Lazar in the lineup and play his third career NHL game.
Who's hot: Ryan has a three-game point streak (one goal, two assists). ... Turris has five goals and four assists in his past seven games. ... Irwin has two goals in his past four games.