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At the Rink blog

Senators hoping to 'dig in' and win against Stars

Sunday, 11.03.2013 / 12:23 PM

By Sean Farrell - NHL.com Correspondent / 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

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."

Dallas left wing Ryan Garbutt returns after serving his five-game suspension for an illegal hit on Dustin Penner of the Anaheim Ducks.

Here are probable lines for the Stars and Senators:

STARS

Ray Whitney - Tyler Seguin - Alex Chiasson

Jamie Benn - Cody Eakin - Valeri Nichushkin

Antoine RousselVernon FiddlerRich Peverley

Ryan GarbuttShawn HorcoffErik Cole

Brenden DillonStephane Robidas

Trevor DaleySergei Gonchar

Alex GoligoskiJordie Benn

Kari Lehtonen

Dan Ellis

Scratched: Lane MacDermid, Kevin Connauton

Injured:

SENATORS

Cory Conacher - Jason Spezza - Chris Neil

Clarke MacArthur - Kyle Turris - Bobby Ryan

Milan Michalek - Zack Smith - Mika Zibanejad

Matt Kassian - Derek Grant - Colin Greening

Jared Cowen - Erik Karlsson

Chris Phillips - Patrick Wiercioch

Mark Borowiecki - Marc Methot

Craig Anderson

Robin Lehner

Scratched: Joe Corvo, Eric Gryba

Injured: Erik Condra (right leg muscle strain)

I've been getting frustrated lately, and the only thing keeping me sane was the team winning and other people stepping up and scoring. Then you just kind of let it go and realize you can end the series with one shot, that frustration goes away for a brief moment, and that's what happened.

— Montreal forward Max Pacioretty after scoring the OT winner in Game 4 -- his first career playoff goal -- to eliminate the Lightning and send the Canadiens into the second round