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Oilers' McDavid faces Senators feeling good

Rookie center looking to build on successful first game back

by Chris Stevenson / NHL.com Correspondent

OILERS (20-26-5) at SENATORS (23-22-6) 

TV: NHL.TV, RDS, SNW, TSN5 

OTTAWA -- Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid said he's looking to build off his strong first game back from a broken clavicle when the Oilers play the Ottawa Senators at Canadian Tire Centre on Thursday (7:30 p.m. ET; SNW, RDS, TSN5, NHL.TV). 

McDavid, the first pick of the 2015 NHL Draft, had a highlight-reel goal and two assists in the Oilers' 5-1 win against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday. It was his first game since sustaining a broken left clavicle Nov. 3 against the Philadelphia Flyers. 

That result, McDavid said, puts him in a good frame of mind for Thursday. 

"It definitely helps," he said. "You never really know how you're going to feel out there. To be able to come back and play well and make some things happen is definitely good for the confidence." 
  
Oilers (20-26-5) coach Todd McLellan said he will again use McDavid between Jordan Eberle and Benoit Pouliot.  
  
When asked if he liked what he got from that line Tuesday, McLellan said: "I would be crazy to say that I didn't. Connor is the catalyst and I thought he had two real hungry wingers. We were just talking about it in our room. Who wouldn't be hungry to play on that line and try and keep him as your centerman or try and move up to play with Leon [Draisaitl]? 
  
"I thought both Jordan and Benoit had real good nights. But it can't just be one night; it has to be a string of a lot of games and tonight they will get tested." 
  
"I thought we were pretty good together," McDavid said, but he also said he would like to see them hang onto the puck longer in the offensive zone and cycle the puck better. 
  
Cam Talbot is expected to start in goal for the Oilers, who are starting a four-game road trip. 
  
The Senators (23-22-6) have lost two and 10 of their past 15 games in regulation time (5-10-0). Players compared the interest around McDavid to Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby's NHL debut. 
  
"Nobody has seen a whole lot of [McDavid]. The most I've seen is the last couple of days with that highlight over and over again," Senators forward Bobby Ryan said. "It's a pretty impressive goal. Obviously the most highly touted [prospect] since Crosby and he seems to be living up to it. I'm excited to see him play … and hope he has an off night after that five-hour flight. Hope the legs didn't catch up with him yet." 
  
McDavid has six goals and nine assists in 14 games to start his NHL career. 
  
"I think he skates as well as Crosby and handles the puck just as well," said Ryan, who was the second pick of the 2005 draft, right after Crosby went No. 1. "I think when you play these guys you just have to take away their speed. They are going to generate chances. It's just a matter of limiting them and limiting them to the outside as well as you can." 
  
Defenseman Marc Methot will play for the Senators after missing the past six games because of a lower-body injury. 
  
Senators captain Erik Karlsson said he and his teammates will have to be aware when McDavid is on the ice, but their focus is more on their own game. 
  
"For us, we need to win a game," he said. "We know it's going to be battle and he's one of the guys we're going to have to key on to have success. 

"For the most part of the year we've been our worst enemy. … I think we can compete with any team and we can beat any team in this League. We're good enough to have a better record than we have. We've been doing things that haven't been helping us out. Tonight again we're going to focus on our own game, our own things. And if we do that well enough we're going beat Edmonton." 
  
Craig Anderson will start in goal for the Senators. 
  
Here are the projected lineups: 
  
OILERS 
Taylor Hall - Leon Draisaitl - Teddy Purcell  
Benoit Pouliot - Connor McDavid - Jordan Eberle 
Zack Kassian - Mark Letestu - Nail Yakupov  
Lauri Korpikoski - Matt Hendricks - Iiro Pakarinen  
  
Darnell Nurse - Justin Schultz  
Andrej Sekera - Mark Fayne  
Brandon Davidson - Eric Gryba  
  
Cam Talbot 
Anders Nilsson  

Scratched: Griffin Reinhart, Adam Clendening, Anton Lander  
Injured: Oscar Klefbom (finger), Andrew Ference (hip), Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (hand) 
  
SENATORS 
Mike Hoffman - Mika Zibanejad - Bobby Ryan 
Zack Smith - Jean-Gabriel Pageau - Mark Stone  
David Dziurzynski - Curtis Lazar - Alex Chiasson  
Shane Prince - Max McCormick - Chris Neil  
  
Marc Methot - Erik Karlsson 
Patrick Wiercioch - Cody Ceci  
Mark Borowiecki - Chris Wideman  
  
Craig Anderson 
Andrew Hammond  

Injured: Kyle Turris (lower body), Chris Phillips (back), Clarke MacArthur (concussion), Milan Michalek (broken finger) 
Scratched: Jared Cowen  
  
Status report: MacArthur skated for the second day in a row and reported no after effects from his first practice Wednesday. He is hoping to start taking contact next week and return to play by the end of the month. He's been out since Oct. 14. … Schultz returns for the Oilers after missing one game because of an illness. Davidson is expected to play after missing the past two games because of an undisclosed injury. 
  
Who's hot: Ceci has one goal and two assists in his past two games. … Hall has two goals and six assists during a six-game point streak. … Draisaitl has two goals in his past two games.

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