Throughout their eight-game winning streak, the Los Angeles Kings have largely benefited from hosting teams who first had to face an equally tough California opponent the previous night. Whether it was the San Jose Sharks or the Anaheim Ducks, teams would enter Staples Center all tenderized like a bull presented to the matador.
Turns out the Ottawa Senators are no bull. On Thursday, they legislated a 1-0 gritty victory over the Kings to complete the Southern California sweep.
“Anytime you beat the Stanley Cup Champs it’s a huge win,” Senators head coach Dave Cameron said. “When you consider the back-to-back, yea. We went to the well, everybody contributed, and our goalie was really good.”
Their goalie was indeed really good. Andrew Hammond made 35 saves to earn his second consecutive shutout in his fourth career start. The Kings now know how their opponents feel when they have to get one through Jonathan Quick.
“I don’t think many people would have expected a goalie battle between Quick and the Hamburglar,” Hammond said, referring to his nickname and the classic McDonald’s cartoon character painted on his goalie mask.
“Our goalie has been our best player the last couple of games,” said Senators forward Mike Hoffman, who scored the only goal in the game, “which definitely helps coming into the California trip because these teams are pretty good. Everyone is stepping up and playing hard.”
Hammond came in place of Robin Lehner, who is out due to a concussion, has the Senators on a four-game winning streak that — like Los Angeles — has them believing in the promise of the playoffs again.
“The biggest thing for me is that I feel like I’m finally at a point where I kind of have structure in my game,” Hammond said. “I’m actually able to have success now. It’s not just something where you’re feeling good one night and things are happening. I feel like I have, I don’t want to call it a formula, but I have the idea of how I need to play to be successful. I’m getting some bounces right now and that’s not going to continue forever, but you just have to ride it while it does and I’m just trying to have fun with it.”
The Senators will conclude their take over of the California House of Representatives with a visit to the San Jose Sharks. Meanwhile, the Kings will be locked in a crucial crosstown battle with the Ducks on Friday.
“It’s huge; Divisional game,” Kings forward Dwight Kings, “big points on the line. If you want to go far in playoffs you have got to go through divisional opponents, so we’ll put this one behind us and refocus for a big heavy team tomorrow.”