Habs’ Hammond posts first NHL victory since ’16

Habs' Hammond posts first NHL victory since '16

NEW YORK — Andrew Hammond, playing in an NHL game for the first time in 1,425 days, made 30 saves and stopped two of three shootout attempts, leading the Montreal Canadiens past the New York Islanders, 3-2, on Sunday.

In a season full of surprises for Montreal, most of them negative, Hammond, 34, who earned the nickname “The Hamburglar” in playing for the Ottawa Senators for parts of four seasons, delivered a positive performance for a last-place team that has endured myriad injuries and trades, to go along with a midseason coaching and general manager change.

It was Hammond’s first regular-season start since March 28, 2018, and first NHL regular-season victory since April 9, 2016, when he backstopped the Senators to a 6-1 win against the Boston Bruins.

“I’d wait four more years to do it again,” Hammond said. “It was worth it.”

Canadiens coach Martin St. Louis concurred.

“It’s not luck that he is back here,” St. Louis said of Hammond’s return to the NHL. “Sometimes a lot of guys might just give up and to see a guy stick with it, to get an opportunity 3 1/2 years after his last start in the NHL and play the way he did, gave our team a chance to win, it’s much respect to him.”

Cole Caufield and Rem Pitlick scored in the shootout and Montreal won its second straight with St. Louis behind the bench. Jeff Petry and Josh Anderson scored in regulation for the Canadiens.

“There’s just good energy,” defenseman Ben Chiarot said of the change since St. Louis took over. “He’s got everyone motivated and excited to play. … Guys are seeing success, we are getting more touches, more offensive chances and less breakdowns. He’s got us playing good hockey.”

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Hammond, who played college hockey at Bowling Green, was a league phenomenon with the Senators, and with his nickname came promotional nights with McDonald’s and T-shirts bearing his name. He became the first goalie in NHL history to register 21 wins in his first 27 games, and was the first goaltender in Ottawa’s franchise history to win the first five starts of his career.

“It hasn’t been the season we wanted, but there’s a tremendous amount of pride,” Pitlick said. “It’s cool that we could all pull it together, especially for (Hammond).”

Montreal acquired Hammond from the Minnesota Wild earlier this month. He was 6-2-3 with a 2.44 goals-against average and a .908 save percentage with the Iowa Wild of the American Hockey League this season.

Kyle Palmieri and Brock Nelson scored for New York and Ilya Sorokin made 25 saves.

Caufield answered Anthony Beauvillier‘s successful shootout maneuver with a five-hole attempt in the first round and Pitlick converted a nifty backhand, forehand combination to push Montreal past New York.

Nelson tied the game 2-2 late in the third period. Kieffer Bellows tipped the puck and allowed Nelson to get behind the Canadiens defense and send a wrist shot through Hammond’s legs at 17:03. Sebastian Aho also assisted on the equalizer.

Anderson gave Montreal a 2-1 lead after he fired a wrist shot over the blocker of Sorokin at 18:49 of the second period. It was the second straight game where Sorokin was beat from a sharp angle on the short side. Nick Suzuki and Caufield assisted on the goal.

“We just got to play a straight-line hockey game, get people to the net,” Islanders coach Barry Trotz said. “Make good decisions with the puck and play a 200-foot game. If we do that, we will have success, if we don’t, we’ll have limited success.”

The Islanders goalie made a timely left pad save on Caufield after a turnover midway through the third period to keep the deficit at one, which gave New York an opportunity to tie the game.

Petry opened the scoring at 9:01 of the first period. The veteran defenseman took advantage of traffic at the top of the crease and his shot from the point trickled through the legs of Sorokin to give Montreal a 1-0 advantage. Brett Kulak and Ryan Poehling assisted.

“We actually had some decent shifts to start and just one ended up finding its way in our net early and that’s a little deflating,” Palmieri said. “But it’s up to us to kind of just go right back after it.”

Palmieri scored his fourth of the season to even the score at 1-1 early in the second period. Josh Bailey set up Zach Parise in front for a deflection opportunity with a no-look pass from the half wall and Palmieri buried the rebound on a backhand at 1:29.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Source: ESPN NHL

    

Author: Ellen Garcia