Here are four things you should know:
Flames wrap up strong trip
The Calgary Flames aren’t hanging their heads after losing top defenceman Mark Giordano for the rest of the season. Instead, they’ll be looking for a fourth straight win when they conclude a seven-game road trip in Ottawa. Calgary, coming off a 5-2 over Detroit on Friday, is two points back of second-place Vancouver in the Pacific Division and one up on idle Los Angeles.
Ottawa has climbed back into playoff contention with nine victories in its last 12 games. The Senators edged Buffalo 3-2 Friday for their second straight win and sit five points back of Boston for the final wild-card playoff berth in the Eastern Conference with a game in hand. A win Sunday would be huge as the Bruins visit Tuesday. Markus Granlund put the Flames ahead to stay (see video below) early in the third period of an eventual 4-2 win over Ottawa in Calgary on Nov. 15.
‘Hamburglar’ gives way to Anderson
Some might accuse Senators head coach Dave Cameron of overthinking. On Saturday, Cameron was toying with the idea of giving Craig Anderson his first start since Jan. 21 when the veteran NHL goaltender suffered a deep bruise to his blocker hand against Toronto. He made it official just before noon ET on Sunday. But how do you sit rookie Andrew “The Hamburglar” Hammond, who is 7-0-1 with a 1.43 GAA and .954 save percentage when you’re five points out of a playoff spot? A busy schedule that will see the Senators play nine games in 16 days, including four this week, is one reason.
Anderson, who has a 2.37 GAA and .927 save percentage in 31 games this season, was scheduled to start Wednesday in Winnipeg but sat because he wasn’t ready.
Wild seek season sweep vs. Avs
Western Conference rivals Colorado and Minnesota hook up, with the hometown Wild attempting a sweep of the five-game season series. On Feb. 28, Avalanche tough guy Cody McLeod jumped skilled forward Mikael Granlund near the end of the game, then fought Charlie Coyle (see video below). McLeod and teammate Gabe Landeskog were fined earlier this week for their actions in that contest. Colorado is still said to be upset that now-injured Matt Cooke knocked defenceman Tyson Barrie out of last year’s playoffs with a knee-on-knee hit.
Devan Dubnyk is expected to make his 24th straight start in the Minnesota net. He is 18-3-1 with a 1.60 GAA and .940 save percentage since being acquired from Arizona in a Jan. 14 trade. Colorado counterpart Semyon Varlamov has started each game since Jan. 13 but he is 0-4-0 versus the Wild this season.
Chasing division leaders
Seeing an opportunity for his team, Chicago Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville challenged his players at Saturday’s practice “to get pissed off around here.” The Blackhawks, who host the surging New York Rangers, have won two straight but are 14-11-3 since Jan. 1. But with Nashville dropping its sixth in a row on Saturday, Chicago is only six points behind the Central Division leaders with two games in hand. The Blackhawks will probably have a new look as rookie forward Teuvo Teravainen was inserted at centre Saturday on the second line with newcomer Antoine Vermette and Brandon Saad.
The Rangers are 7-1-2 in its last 10 and could close to within one point of the Metropolitan Division-leading New York Islanders with a win at the United Center. The Rangers also have played four fewer games than the Islanders.