NY Rangers at Ottawa
When: 7:30 PM
ET, Thursday, March 26, 2015
Where: Canadian Tire Centre, Ottawa, Ontario
The New York Rangers slowly are looking toward the future, while there is no time like the present for the Ottawa Senators. The white-hot Senators vie for their season-high eighth straight victory when they host the Rangers on Thursday in a potential first-round playoff matchup. Riding an impressive 15-1-1 stretch, Ottawa holds a one-point lead over Boston in the race for the second wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference - and it can thank first-year sensation Andrew Hammond for its torrid run up the standings.
The 27-year-old Hammond (14-0-1, 1.67 goals-against average .946 save percentage) can become the second goaltender in league history to begin his career with 16 decisions without a regulation loss, joining Pittsburgh's Patrick Lalime (14-0-2 in 1996-97). Hammond could have a tall order on his plate in Metropolitan Division-leading New York, which fell for just the second time in nine games with a 4-2 setback to Los Angeles on Tuesday. The Rangers hold a comfortable six-point lead over the second-place New York Islanders in the Metropolitan but trail Montreal by one in the race for the Presidents' Trophy.
TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, MSG Plus (New York), TSN5, RDS (Ottawa)
ABOUT THE RANGERS (46-19-7): While Cam Talbot has been tabbed the starter on Thursday, Henrik Lundqvist will dress as his backup as he works his way back from a vascular injury he sustained in January. "I'll be on the bench tomorrow," said Lundqvist, who hasn't played since Feb. 2. Talbot certainly has fared well in his absence, posting a 15-4-3 record with a .934 save percentage.
ABOUT THE SENATORS (37-24-11): While pleased with the success of Hammond - aka "The Hamburglar" - the team has gone on the offensive by telling its fans to stop throwing hamburgers on the ice as a way of showing their appreciation. "We will continue to abide by both our own and the NHL’s policy to work in the best interests of the safety of our fans and the players — which does not permit items being thrown on the ice during play," director of communications Brian Morris told the Ottawa Citizen. "There will be zero tolerance for any items thrown onto the ice during play."
1. Rangers LW Carl Hagelin scored the overtime goal in a 3-2 win over Ottawa on Jan. 20.
2. Senators captain Erik Karlsson also tallied in the first meeting and has collected three goals and six assists in his last seven contests.
3. The Rangers are 1-for-21 on the power play in their last nine games.
PREDICTION: Rangers 3, Senators 1
Stats and Records