Hammond steps up as improbable hero once again
Frederick Breedon / Getty Images Sport / Getty

"The Hamburglar" is back.

Heading into an elimination game against the Nashville Predators without goaltenders Semyon Varlamov and Jonathan Bernier due to injuries, Colorado Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar called upon Andrew Hammond on Friday, and it worked out rather well.

The 30-year-old stopped 44 of 45 shots in Colorado's 2-1 win, forcing the series to a Game 6 back in Denver on Sunday.

Acquired from Ottawa on Nov. 5 as part of a three-team trade that saw Matt Duchene sent to the Senators and also involved Nashville's Kyle Turris, Hammond had started just three contests in 2018 prior to Game 5, two of which came in the AHL.

And dating back to the beginning of 2016-17, he'd made only five NHL starts, and his lone appearance with the Avalanche this season had resulted in a 2-1 loss to Philadelphia.

But Hammond stepped up for the Avalanche in a big way on Friday, stopping 11 shots in the first period, 15 in the middle frame, and 19 over the final 20 minutes to earn the win and extend the season.

On top of that, he became just the fourth goaltender in NHL history to win an elimination game after making no more than one appearance during the regular season, joining Earl Robertson (1937), Bert Gardiner (1939), and Ed Belfour (1990), according to the NHL.

"You never know when you’re going to get a second chance," Hammond said, per Teresa M. Walker of the Associated Press. "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."

Hammond has played the hero before. He first exploded onto the scene with the Senators back in 2014-15, when he posted a record of 20-1-2 with a .941 save percentage to help Ottawa become the first team in the NHL's modern era (since 1943-44) to dig out of a 14-point deficit in the standings to reach the playoffs.

And with Bernier sidelined with a nagging lower-body injury that apparently worsened in recent days, Hammond is likely to be called upon again for Sunday's Game 6.

Hammond steps up as improbable hero once again
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