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DENVER (AP) The third-string goalie nicknamed ”Hamburglar”
stole a game for Colorado in Nashville.No time for Andrew Hammond to revel in
his thievery Womens
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, though. Game 6 awaits Sunday at the Pepsi
Center. Once again, the Avalanche and their surprise goalie with the catchy
moniker – he used to have a mask with the McDonald’s “Hamburglar” character on
the side – will try to ward off elimination trailing Nashville 3-2 in the
first-round series.”Backs against the wall in an elimination game seem to bring
out the best in us,” Hammond said Saturday after the team arrived home.In
Philadelphia, Flyers goalie Michal Neuvirth faces the same kind of pressure
Sunday with his team down 3-2 heading home against Pittsburgh. He stopped 30
shots in Game 5 to help the Flyers extend that series.”I’ve been practicing well
and feeling good about my game,” said Neuvirth, who’s been banged up this
season. ”I believe in myself that I can bring my `A’ game on the big
stage.”Hammond certainly brought out his best in what Colorado coach Jared
Bednar called ”one of the biggest games he’s had in his career.”The 30-year-old
Hammond turned back 44 shots from the top-seeded Predators in Game 5. This after
he was thrust into action for the third period of Game 4 when Jonathan Bernier
went down with a lower-body injury. Bernier was filling in with starter Semyon
Varlamov sidelined by a knee injury.To think, Hammond was essentially a throw-in
player during the three-team deal that sent Matt Duchene to Ottawa in November.
The Avalanche already had a surplus of goalies, so Hammond spent time in the
American Hockey League. Eventually, Hammond was called up, but before making an
appearance with Colorado he suffered a concussion. And once he recovered, he was
briefly sent back to the AHL.Hammond’s only NHL game of the season came on March
28 against Philadelphia, stopping 31 shots in a 2-1 loss.On Friday, Hammond made
his first playoff start since April 17, 2015, with Ottawa.”I won’t lie. There
are days you wonder if it would happen again for you,” Hammond said. ”As cliche
as it is Justin
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, you stick to the process and try to get better.
Fortunately, it all worked out last night. We’re not satisfied, though. We want
to keep going and win tomorrow night, and extend the series, and go back to
Nashville and play another meaningful hockey game.”The Predators now find
themselves trying to avoid becoming the fifth Presidents’ Trophy winners to be
eliminated in the first round since 2005-06.”There’s a lot of confidence in the
room and belief in the room that we can go to Colorado and win a game,”
Predators coach Peter Laviolette said.ABOUT THAT NICKNAMEHammond is ambivalent
about being called the ”Hamburglar,” a nickname that’s followed him since his
college days at Bowling Green.”To be honest, I don’t know if anyone actually
calls me that to my face outside of maybe fans,” said Hammond, who had the
“Hamburglar” character on his mask while in Ottawa. ”I have no problem with it.
I think the side story it’s taken on has been pretty funny. It adds to it.”Does
his family call him that?”No,” he laughed. ”No.”ROAD SCHOLARSThe road team is
4-1 in the Penguins-Flyers series as it shifts back to Philadelphia. Even more,
the Penguins are 4-0 in Philly this year, winning by a combined score of 20-4,
including 10-1 in Games 3 and 4.”I’m not a huge believer you carry momentum over
from one game to the next,” Flyers coach Dave Hakstol said. ”You have to
re-generate it. We played some really good hockey games at home down the
stretch. We didn’t do it the last two.”ON THE MENDThe Penguins could have
forward Patric Hornqvist back in the lineup after he skated with the team
Saturday. He’s missed the last two games with an upper-body injury.Hornqvist has
20 career playoff goals, including one in this series.READY TO GOVegas coach
Gerard Gallant plans to pick up the intensity at practice Noah
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, maybe with some 3-on-3 scrimmages featuring a
little contact. He doesn’t want his team to become too rusty given the layoff in
between series. The expansion Golden Knights could go more than a week between
finishing the sweep of Los Angeles on Tuesday and starting their second-round
series against San Jose.”In a perfect world, I’d soon have three or four days
off and get back at it,” Gallant said. ”I’m sure San Jose is the same way. Any
coach would say the same thing.”—AP Sports Writers Teresa M. Walker and Will
Graves contributed to this report.— ARLINGTON, Va. (AP) Next season’s defending
champion Washington Capitals will look a lot like the group that won the Stanley
Cup last month.They re-signed defensemen John Carlson and Michal Kempny and
forward Devante Smith-Pelly and have so far only lost fourth-line center Jay
Beagle and backup goaltender Philipp Grubauer from their title-winning
roster.Yet the few changes could be substantial for the Capitals, most notably
new coach Todd Reirden taking over for Barry Trotz with a roster that is so
similar that the expectation will be another deep playoff run.”There’s going to
be many things that stay the same, but there’s gonna be some things that I think
I have to be cognizant of,” Reirden said as he was introduced Tuesday. ”I want
to create an environment where players are going to continue to be challenged
with new ideas and new ways to improve their games.”Based on the continuity of
promoting a four-year assistant, general manager Brian MacLellan and Reirden
expect this to be a ”seamless transition.” Set aside the awkward circumstances
of Trotz’s departure and the Capitals had been grooming Reirden for a head
coaching job somewhere in the NHL for some time now.Reirden was the finalist for
Calgary’s job two years ago and in retrospect is glad that didn’t work out. His
first NHL head coaching job happens to be this one, as just the fourth coach in
the past 30 years to assume control of a Cup champion.With the vast majority of
the roster back, Alex Ovechkin coming off a playoff MVP performance and almost
the entire defense he helped develop back to try to repeat, the pressure is
on.”Todd’s at that point in his career where he’s earned a head coaching job,”
MacLellan said. ”He’s put in all the work. He’s got all the experience. It’s
just a matter of seeing him take control. I have all the faith in the world that
he can accomplish it. He’s just ready to do it right now.”Beagle signed a
four-year, $12 million contract with the Canucks, and the Capitals traded
Grubauer and defenseman Brooks Orpik to the Avalanche to clear the cap space
they needed to ink Carlson to a $64 million, eight-year deal. Orpik could still
return after Colorado bought him out and made him a free agent, which could mean
18 of 19 players who skated in the Cup-winning Game 5 against Vegas are on the
roster to begin next season.”It’s one of those offseasons where you’re not
trying to make a change because you like what you have culturally ,”
MacLellan said. ”This group really seems to like playing together and there’s a
good chemistry there, so I think it was our decision to try to (keep) as much as
we could.”That did not extend to Trotz, who wanted to be paid closer to market
value for a Cup-winning coach than the automatic extension that kicked in with a
small raise from his previous salary. MacLellan believes Reirden can build on
what Trotz started, and the 47-year-old new Capitals coach is confident in his
abilities because of how much responsibility he had the past two seasons as
associate coach.”We all had input in it in what our decisions were made,”
Reirden said. ”I feel strongly about the direction of our team and the style
that we played during the year that it wasn’t necessarily just one person’s
idea, but it was our whole staff that had large input into how our team was
going to play.”The Capitals will need one assistant coach to replace Trotz
choice Lane Lambert, but will keep the rest of the staff intact. They’ll look to
Travis Boyd or recently signed Nic Dowd to replace Beagle. And if they can’t
bring back Orpik, they’ll likely find a veteran defenseman to play on the third
pair.That’s about all that’s different when the Stanley Cup banner is raised to
the rafters Oct. 3, which is no accident.”We’re always looking to improve
certain areas,” MacLellan said. ”We always look at, `We’ve got a hole here. We
need to fix that.’ Or, `This is a way we can get to that next level.’ We’ve
always had that type of attitude. This year, it’s trying to maintain what we
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