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At the Rink: Red Wings at Senators

by Chris Stevenson

OTTAWA -- The Ottawa Senators start a four-game homestand Tuesday against the Detroit Red Wings.

Senators center Curtis Lazar is hoping to stick around and call Ottawa home for the rest of the season.

The game against the Red Wings will be the rookie's ninth of the season and afterward the Senators will have a decision to make: play him for a 10th game and use up the first year of his entry-level contract or return him to junior.

Given his play this season and comments by Senators coach Paul MacLean, it will be a surprise if Lazar, 19, is sent to the Edmonton Oil Kings of the Western Hockey League.

Lazar was asked what he would do if he was in Senators management: would he keep himself around for the rest of the season?

"Of course," he said, "and I'd sign myself to a long-term deal."

Lazar, selected by the Senators in the first round (No. 17) in the 2013 NHL Draft, has been playing an average of 13:14 a game and has won 52.83 percent of his faceoffs, tops among Ottawa centers.

"He's been very consistent and he hasn't done anything for us not to keep him, but we have to make the decision what's based best not only for our team, but also for him," MacLean said. "He's still a young man and we have to make sure he's in the proper environment to grow into the player that we all see him potentially being."

Lazar has been playing on a line with fellow rookies Mike Hoffman and Mark Stone and has impressed his teammates with his physical play and two-way game.

Stone said Lazar is usually the first man in on the forecheck and the first back to defend. When told that sounded like the perfect linemate, Stone said with a laugh, "I don't want to hype him up too much. He's been good to play with. He plays both ends of the rink really well.

"He skates well, he's gritty. There's not a battle that he's not involved in. He plays a game that people want to play. He's got a good defensive game and he's got all the skill to make plays in the O-zone. He's great to play with him. It's nice for us."

Lazar believes he's earned a spot on the Senators roster.

"I think I've answered the question about the physical play and the speed and the tempo," he said. "The little details on faceoffs are a big part I really wanted to focus on. I think my percentage is pretty solid up to this point [and] proven to them I can compete in this League on a day-to-day basis, and for the most part I've done that."

The Senators have one win in their past five games (1-2-2) and have allowed 16 goals. They gave up 10 in their first five games of the season on their way to a 4-1 start.

The Red Wings were defeated 3-2 by the Buffalo Sabres in a shootout Sunday.

When asked what he would like to see the Red Wings do differently Tuesday, coach Mike Babcock said, "Score. So when you get your opportunities, bear down and hit the net. It's got red around it. Hit it. The other thing is the urgency you have at the end of a game has to be the same as you have at the start of a game. We didn't play poorly. Don't get me wrong. We created lots of scoring opportunities, but we didn't find a way to finish. You've got to find a way to finish."

Here are the projected lineups:

RED WINGS

Justin AbdelkaderPavel DatsyukHenrik Zetterberg

Tomas TatarRiley SheahanGustav Nyquist

Tomas JurcoDarren HelmJohan Franzen

Drew MillerLuke GlendeningJoakim Andersson

Niklas KronwallJonathan Ericsson

Danny DeKeyserBrian Lashoff

Brendan SmithJakub Kindl

Jimmy Howard

Jonas Gustavsson

Scratched: Daniel Cleary, Andrej Nestrasil

Injured: Kyle Quincey (ankle), Stephen Weiss (groin)

SENATORS

Clarke MacArthur - Kyle TurrisBobby Ryan

Milan Michalek - Mika Zibanejad - Alex Chiasson

Zack SmithDavid LegwandChris Neil

Mike Hoffman - Curtis LazarMark Stone

Chris Phillips - Erik Karlsson

Jared Cowen - Cody Ceci

Patrick Wiercioch - Eric Gryba

Craig Anderson

Robin Lehner

Scratched: Colin Greening, Erik Condra

Injured: Mark Borowiecki (upper body), Marc Methot (back/hip)

Status report: Borowiecki will miss his third game since being checked into the boards against the Columbus Blue Jackets Oct. 28. MacLean said he is hopeful Borowiecki will be able to play during this homestand, which ends Sunday. … Methot increased the intensity of his on-ice workouts, but is still not ready to practice, MacLean said. He has not played a game this season. … Chiasson was injured when he blocked a shot with his foot Saturday against the Boston Bruins, but MacLean expects him to play Tuesday. … Howard will be starting his fourth straight game for the Red Wings. … Quincey injured his ankle Friday against the Los Angeles Kings, ending his streak of consecutive games at 88. He was replaced in the lineup by Brian Lashoff Sunday against the Sabres. Lashoff played 14:23 in his first game of the season.

Who's hot: Datsyuk has five goals and five assists in the past six games. … Abdelkader has two goals and three assists in the past five games. … Tatar has two goals in the past two games … After going pointless in the first eight games, Zibanejad has scored a goal in each of the past two. … Chiasson has two goals and three assists in the past five games.

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