Fresh off a five-game road swing where Ottawa and Hammond went 4-0-1, a sluggish start at home against the Buffalo Sabres eventually worked its way into a 3-2 win for the Senators.
Mika Zibanejad and Mark Stone scored third-period goals as Ottawa rallied to defeat the Sabres after two early goals against put them in a hole.
Zibanejad scored at 1:34 of the third to tie the game 2-2 after he took pass from Bobby Ryan and beat Anders Lindback in the Buffalo goal. Stone put the Senators ahead for the first time in the game less than two minutes later, scoring on a rebound after Marc Methot was stopped by Lindback on a wraparound attempt.
"We were fortunate to get the win and I don't think I had my best game," said Hammond. "It seemed like I was just fighting it all night and for a while it seemed like it translated to the team.
"The start of the second period we had a good push back and in the third as well to get the goals. From there it was just trying to will the rest of the game and play an ugly style of hockey."
Eric Karlsson also scored for the Senators (29-23-11) as they won for the seventh time in their past eight games, all started by the rookie Hammond, who improved to 7-0-1 to start his NHL career.
Hammond made 24 saves and helped Ottawa pull to within three points of the Boston Bruins for the second wildcard berth in the Eastern Conference.
Phil Varone and Tyler Ennis found the back of the net for the Sabres (19-41-5) and Lindback stopped 34 shots. Buffalo has lost three straight games.
"It looked like we should have had more control of the game but our foot was off the gas," said Varone, who also had an assist in the game.
The Sabres pulled Lindback with a little more than a minute to play in the game but they were unable to get a shot on goal.
"It's disappointing," said the Sabres goaltender. "We had the lead and we didn't manage to keep it. They came out hard in the third but I have to come up with the saves that keeps us in the game and I didn't."
The Senators spotted Buffalo's 2-0 lead after the first period but it took just 26 seconds into the second for Ottawa to get on the board.
Karlsson took a point shot that deflected off Sabres defenceman Zach Bogosian and past Lindback into the net.
Buffalo's first goal came at 7:22 of the first period as Varone raced into the Ottawa zone and took a back-handed swat at a loose puck that was bouncing towards Hammond.
A little more than nine minutes later, Ennis took a shot from the bottom of the faceoff circle that beat Hammond short side through a screen.
"We were way too cute early on and not doing the work," Senators coach Dave Cameron said.
The Senators play the second of a three-game homestand Sunday when they host the Calgary Flames. Buffalo travels to Washington to face the Capitals Saturday in the fourth of a five-game road trip.
Notes: Jared Cowen and Colin Greening were scratches for the Senators Friday night while the Sabres scratched Zac Dalpe, Tyson Strachan and Chad Johnson. … Hammond became just the second goaltender in the past 76 years to allow two or fewer goals in his first eight career NHL starts. … The last time the Sabres won in Ottawa was March 10, 2012. … Ennis' first-period goal was his 200th career point.Suggest a correction