For goalie Andrew Hammond of the Ottawa Senators, it all started against the Carolina Hurricanes.
On Tuesday, what has become an amazing story -- the "Hamburglar" saga -- continues against the Hurricanes.
Hammond, 27, was recalled on an emergency basis Jan. 29 from the Binghamton Senators (AHL) with goalie Craig Anderson injured. In the Feb. 16 game against the Canes in Ottawa, Hammond came in to relieve injured goalie Robin Lehner, allowing two goals on five shots in a 6-3 loss.
With Lehner out with a concussion, Hammond took over as the starter. He won a game. Then won another game. Then another game …
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In 11 starts since the Canes relief appearance, Hammond has gone 10-0-1 with two shutouts and is on the brink of a longstanding milestone. He's only the second goalie in NHL history to allow two or fewer goals in each of his first 11 NHL starts, one off the record set by Frank "Mister Zero" Brimsek -- a future Hall of Famer -- with the Boston Bruins in 1938.
Hammond will make his 12th start Tuesday against the Hurricanes as the Sens (33-24-11) look to continue a sizzling run that gives them hope of snatching a wild-card playoff berth. Ottawa is 13-2-2 in their last 17 games, with the two regulation losses to Carolina and Boston on March 10 -- Anderson was in net against the Bruins.
"It's been a whirlwind," Hammond said Tuesday. "I think what's given me the best opportunity for success is not getting caught up in the big picture and every night approaching it as a must-win game. For me it's about realizing a dream and trying to run with the opportunity."
Hammond has become something of an instant hockey icon. The "Hamburglar" tag began when he was in college at Bowling Green, but he had a hamburger thrown on the ice in Ottawa and says he will receive a lifetime card for McDonald's food.
"It's crazy," Hammond said, smiling. "McDonald's retired that character 20 years ago."
-- Anton Khudobin will be the starting goalie for the Canes against the Sens. Cam Ward was not at Tuesday's morning skate and Canes coach Bill Peters was not sure if Ward would be available as a backup, saying a flu-bug was going through the team. Equipment manager Jorge Alves was the second goalie at the skate.
Defenseman Ryan Murphy, a scratch the past two games because of an illness, was at the skate and should play. Murphy is needed after defenseman Rasmus Rissanen suffered a knee injury Sunday against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
-- The lines at the skate had Jordan Staal centering Eric Staal and Nathan Gerbe, Victor Rask at center with Chris Terry and Andrej Nestrasil, Elias Lindholm centering Jeff Skinner and Alex Semin, and Jay McClement at center with Brad Malone and Pat Dwyer. Riley Nash was the extra forward.
The defensive pairs were Ron Hainsey-Justin Faulk, John-Michael Liles-Murphy and Michal Jordan-Brett Bellemore.
-- Carolina is 11-0-1 in the last 12 games against the Sens at PNC Arena, outscoring Ottawa 43-17. The Sens have scored one goal or none in nine of the games.