The San Jose Sharks were blanked in their last contest and now have to face one of the hottest goalies in the league once again.
Andrew Hammond looks to help the Ottawa Senators win a seventh straight game Monday night, though it appears they will likely be without Milan Michalek against the visiting Sharks.
San Jose (35-29-8) fell 2-0 at Montreal on Saturday. Leading Vezina Trophy candidate Carey Price stopped 29 shots by the Sharks to lower his league-best goals-against average to 1.86.
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"We had enough looks to get one at least but he made some tremendous saves," coach Todd McLellan said.
It won’t get any easier against Hammond, who made 28 saves Feb. 28 in a 4-2 victory at San Jose to improve to 5-0-0 on the season. He lost his next start in a shootout before posting a 1.84 GAA to capture his next eight.
Hammond is 13-0-1 with a 1.65 GAA for Ottawa, which seeks its first seven-game win streak since a franchise-record 11-game run Jan. 14-Feb. 4, 2010. He has won all six home starts, and his streak of getting at least one point in the first 14 starts of his career is two shy of Patrick Lalime’s NHL record established in the 1996-97 season.
”I don’t think the streak is something that’s on my shoulders, I think it’s kind of a team thing right now for us and right now we’re fortunately getting rewarded for playing good hockey right now and that’s something that doesn’t always happen," Hammond said.
Hammond has yielded seven goals in his last two starts, making 22 saves in Saturday’s 5-3 home win over Toronto.
Michalek left in the first period after he took a shot to the head and did not return. The winger, seventh on the team with 34 points, is unlikely to play Monday.
Coach Dave Cameron said that Matt Puempel is also out after the winger injured himself blocking a shot Saturday.
Ottawa (36-24-11) trails Boston by one point for the Eastern Conference’s final wild-card spot and has two games in hand on the Bruins, whom the Senators beat 6-4 on Thursday.
"We’re not in the playoffs yet," Cameron said. "Yeah, we’re on a good run, we beat Boston, a huge emotional game. We’re still on the outside. So let’s not get ahead of ourselves here."
Defenseman Erik Karlsson has eight points in this win streak, Mark Stone and Kyle Turris have seven apiece and Michalek has five. Turris has consecutive two-goal efforts.
The Senators have been outscored 13-3 in losing their last four home meetings with the Sharks. Ottawa’s last home win in the series was a 9-3 rout Dec. 19, 2002.
San Jose has dropped three of four, falling to 1-2-0 on this seven-game trip despite a strong effort Saturday. Brent Burns hit the crossbar with 1:50 remaining and the Sharks down by one.
"Moral victories get us nothing," McLellan said. "We get a little growth maybe out of that as a team but we’re beyond growth right now, it’s all about wins."
The Sharks are six points behind Calgary for the Pacific Division’s final automatic spot with 10 games left for both.
"We’ve got to go play against a team that’s probably in the same boat we are, probably a little bit closer but they’re going to come out and compete and we’re gonna match every inch of it," McLellan said.