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At the Rink: Stars at Senators

by Chris Stevenson

OTTAWA -- When the Ottawa Senators welcome back an old face to Canadian Tire Centre on Thursday, they will have a new look against the Dallas Stars.

Senators coach Dave Cameron is changing his forward lines for the Senators first game after the All-Star break.

It's the first game in Ottawa for former Senators captain Jason Spezza, who asked for and was granted a trade in July.

Robin Lehner will start in goal for the Senators after No. 1 goaltender Craig Anderson sustained a hand injury against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Jan. 21. Anderson is day-to-day and Andrew Hammond was called up from the Binghamton Senators of the American Hockey League to back up Lehner.

It will be Lehner's first start since a 5-4 loss against the Stars in Dallas on Jan. 13.

"We are going to shake things up, move them around, freshen things up. Some guys are in a little bit of a funk," Cameron said. "Give them a different look. Probably the key word is freshen things up and see if it works knowing you can always go back to what you had. Yeah, we're going to try some different things and hopefully it's for a little while, which means they're having some success."

Cameron is splitting up wing Clarke MacArthur and center Kyle Turris, which has been one of the Senators constant duos.

MacArthur will play with center Mika Zibanejad and wing Bobby Ryan. Turris will play between Milan Michalek and Mark Stone.

"Shake things up and try out some new combos. It's something that happens. You just try to get on a roll. It can spark some energy. It might last 20 games, it might last 10 shifts. You never know," said Turris, who has two goals and four assists in his past 14 games.

"It always seems like when one line is scoring the others are not. It would be nice if we could all start to pile them in at once here," said MacArthur, who has five goals in his past 28 games. "I don't think it's ever a bad thing to change things up. A lot of teams change every four or five games. We're a team that usually sticks with lines. I think it will be a fresh start for everyone here. I'm looking forward to it here."

With the Senators having eight days off over the All-Star break, Cameron treated the break like a mini-training camp with an eye toward making a push for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The Senators are 10 points out of the second wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference. They play nine of their next 11 games at home, eight of those against non-playoff teams.

"We've got to find a way to string some things together. We've been saying that forever," MacArthur said. "You have a bad run now and you're looking at what's going to happen in March (at the trade deadline) and we never want to be in that position."

Spezza, who played 11 seasons in Ottawa and averaged a point a game, said he will be nervous Thursday.

"I'm sure there will be a little bit of butterflies and uneasiness, but that's kind of standard," he said. "That's part of being an athlete. You get that with big games of kind of unknowns. I'm excited to play here and I'm excited to kind of bookend it a bit too."

Spezza was a polarizing player among Senators fans, drawing praise for his offense but criticism for risky plays that resulted in turnovers and what was perceived as a lack of effort in the defensive zone.

Spezza was a central figure on some very good Senators teams. They advanced to the Stanley Cup Final in 2007 where they lost to the Anaheim Ducks in five games.

"When I was here I gave it my all and sometimes I wasn't good enough and it wasn't good enough to have us win, but I felt like I always put a lot into the game to tried to get us to win a Stanley Cup here," Spezza said. "I have no regrets in that sense. I always put my heart into everything I did here. I always tried to get better. My only regret is we didn't win here and that obviously stings because of how close we got."

Said Turris: "He's done a lot for this organization and hopefully the fans recognize that."

The emphasis for the Stars in practice Wednesday was scoring. They have been held to three goals in their past two games, both losses.

"Right now the last couple of days practice has been focused on shots, not letting goalies beat us," center Tyler Seguin said.

"In Winnipeg we had (47) shots and didn't win the game, so we have to figure out a way to score."

Here are the projected lineups:


Jamie BennTyler SeguinPatrick Eaves

Shawn HorcoffJason SpezzaAles Hemsky

Antoine RousselCody EakinRyan Garbutt

Travis MoenVernon FiddlerColton Sceviour

Alex GoligoskiJohn Klingberg

Jason DemersJordie Benn

Trevor DaleyDavid Schlemko

Kari Lehtonen

Anders Lindback

Scratched: Jamie Oleksiak

Injured: Brett Ritchie, Erik Cole, Valeri Nichushkin, Patrik Nemeth


Clarke MacArthurMika ZibanejadBobby Ryan

Milan Michalek - Kyle TurrisMark Stone

Mike HoffmanJean-Gabriel PageauAlex Chiasson

Erik CondraCurtis LazarChris Neil

Marc Methot - Erik Karlsson

Jared Cowen - Cody Ceci

Chris Phillips - Eric Gryba

Robin Lehner

Andrew Hammond

Scratched: David Legwand, Patrick Wiercioch, Mark Borowiecki

Injured: Craig Anderson (hand), Zack Smith (wrist)

Status report: Stars coach Lindy Ruff said he will go with the same forwards who played in a 3-2 loss to the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday, but might make a change on defense. Oleksiak could go into the lineup with Jordie Benn coming out. … Ritchie and Cole are close to returning. … Borowiecki has recovered from a deep cut on his leg he sustained during a pre-game soccer game, but will not play.

Who's hot: Karlsson has three goals in his past two games. … Stone has a seven-game point streak (two goals, six assists). … Spezza has a six-game point streak (one goal, five assists).

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