OTTAWA -- In getting ready to face the Dallas Stars on Sunday, Ottawa Senators coach Paul MacLean is encouraged that some of his players started "digging in" during their last game, even though the Senators' winless streak reached four in a row.
Ottawa gave up a team-record 57 shots and blew a pair of two-goal leads in a 5-4 shootout loss against the New York Islanders on Friday. The Senators had a 4-2 lead against the Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday before losing 6-5.
"We didn't cave in and lose the game in regulation, so we got it to overtime and got it to a shootout, so that's what I mean by digging in," MacLean said prior to the game Sunday. "We didn't end up finding a way to lose the game in regulation. We found a way to dig in and at least we got something out of the game. [Sunday] we need to dig in here and find a way to win a game."
Dallas defenseman Sergei Gonchar will face his former team for the first time since his rights were acquired by the Stars from the Senators in exchange for a conditional sixth-round pick in the 2013 NHL Draft on June 7. The Stars signed Gonchar to a two-year, $10 million contract the next day.
"Sergei has the ability to make a good first pass," MacLean said. "Do we miss that? Yep, but his time was done here. We have to move on. We're going through some growing pains with our younger players, not unexpected, maybe the length or how the growing pains are, but let's face it, they are growing pains for these young players and we have to stick with them."
Stars coach Lindy Ruff said he was hoping to get a bit of chemistry on the road out of some line modifications. That includes rookie Valeri Nichuskin, who will line up with center Cody Eakin and captain Jamie Benn.
"I've liked the way he's skated," Ruff said. "He's been in on opportunities. Obviously he's got to finish some of his opportunities. It gives us a chance maybe on the road to become a little more effective with three lines."
Here are probable lines for the Stars and Senators:
Injured: Erik Condra (right leg muscle strain)