The Colorado Avalanche needed a big-time performance Friday night to keep their season alive, and they got one from the man they call the “Hamburglar.”
Goaltender Andrew Hammond was forced into action due to an injury to Jonathan Bernier in the third period of Wednesday’s 3-2 loss to the Nashville Predators in Game 4.
Hammond is actually the team’s third-string goalie: Bernier was the backup for the team’s No. 1 goalie, Semyon Varlamov, who suffered a season-ending injury in March.
So with the Avalanche trailing 3-1 in the best-of-seven first-round series, Hammond was only called upon in the biggest game of the season.
No pressure, right?
Well, if there was, Hammond didn’t show its effects as he turned in an absolute gem to lead the Avalanche to a season-saving 2-1 win in Nashville..
The Hamburglar recorded 44 saves, stopping 44 or 45 shots on goal.
— NHL (@NHL) April 21, 2018
Then, at the 18:32 mark in the third period, Colorado’s Sven Andrighetto scored the game-winner to force a Game 6 back in Denver.
For Hammond, who was acquired in a trade with Ottawa in November, it was just the second game he started all season. In fact, he’s played in only four games this season, including his two starts and relief duty for the injured Bernier in Game 4.
“It’s one of those things I’ve learned in my career: You never know when you’re going to get a second chance,” Hammond said via USA Today.
“I’ve played two games basically since the start of January — at times it felt as though that day would never come again when you’re going to play again. You keep battling in practice, you stick to the process, when you get your chance, you’re ready,” he said.
Andrew Hammond: 1st goalie since Phillip Grubauer (2014-15 with WSH) to play just a single regular season game but then go on to win a playoff game later that same season
— StatsCentre (@StatsCentre) April 21, 2018
Hammond, 30, burst on the scene as a 26-year-old rookie in 2014, posting a 20-1-2 record in 23 starts for Ottawa.
He had a ridiculous .941 save percentage and a 1.79 goals against average that year. But he was unable to match that initial success and faded into a backup role in Ottawa.
Bernier suffered a lower body injury in Game 4. There’s been no update on his status for Game 6.
There’s no word who will start in net for Colorado on Sunday, but whether or not Hammond’s number is called again, Avs fans won’t soon forget his performance Friday night.
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