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The Ottawa Senators aren’t about to wave the white flag in their playoff hunt but their goaltending picture again has tilted. Rookie sensation Andrew (The Hamburglar) Hammond limped out of the arena after Thursday’s optional skate and Craig Anderson hasn’t played since blocking a shot from Maple Leafs defenceman Dion Phaneuf on Jan. 21. But Anderson will get the call for Saturday’s tilt at Toronto (CBC, CBCSports.ca, 7 p.m. ET) and ex-Leaf Clarke MacArthur will return from a concussion in place of fellow forward Colin Greening.
Toronto forward Nazem Kadri is eligible to return from his four-game suspension for his hit to the head of the Oilers' Matt Fraser. The March 16 game was the second for Kadri since returning from a team-issued three-game hiatus for off-ice behaviour.
The Maple Leafs could move a step closer to improved odds for the upcoming draft lottery with a regulation loss to Ottawa. Edmonton remained in 28th place in the 30-team NHL following Friday’s 4-0 win over Dallas but closed to within three points of No. 27 Toronto. The Oilers and Leafs each have played 75 games. Toronto currently has a 9.5 per cent chance of securing the top pick in the draft and the opportunity to draft Ontario Hockey League star Connor McDavid first overall. A drop to 28th place would see the odds climb to 11.5 per cent.
Vancouver will need to change its luck against the Dallas Starson Saturday (CBC, CBCSports.ca, 10 p.m. ET) as the Canucks try to protect their second-place standing in the Pacific Division. The unbeaten-in-three Los Angeles Kings are two points back and visit the equally surging Minnesota Wild. Vancouver has lost five in a row to the Stars the past two seasons and been outscored 20-6. The Canucks’ last victory over Dallas on home ice was March 30, 2012. Vancouver, which is coming off a disappointing 4-1 defeat to Colorado on Thursday at the Rogers Arena, hasn’t dropped back-to-back games at home since January.
All four division leaders, Montreal (Atlantic), New York Rangers (Metropolitan), Nashville (Central) and Anaheim (Pacific) are in action, with all but the Canadiens playing in the afternoon. The Ducks and Rangers top the NHL with 101 points but New York has three games in hand. Montreal and Nashville are next with 100 apiece and each has played 75 games. The team with the most points by season’s end will claim the Presidents’ Trophy and home-ice advantage throughout the Stanley Cup playoffs. Henrik Lundqvist returned from a seven-week absence (neck injury) to start in goal for the Rangers. Of note in the Canadiens-Panthers game — the first three games in the season series have been decided by one goal and the visiting team (Florida on Saturday) has won each contest.
In Washington, former Capitals prospect Filip Forsberg returns. The Predators’ standout has set several franchise rookie records this season, including goals (22), assists (34), points (56) and game-winning goals (six).
Blues get boost on ‘D’
Staring at first place in the Central Division, the St. Louis Blues will have some added motivation with the expected return of defencemen Kevin Shattenkirk and Carl Gunnarsson when they host Columbus. Shattenkirk had 40 points in 49 games before suffering an abdominal injury on Feb. 1 that required surgery. He needs five points to match his career high of 45 set last season. Gunnarsson missed two games with an upper-body injury. The Blues would overtake Nashville with a victory combined with a Predators loss in regulation at Washington.