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Another first for Senators' Phaneuf

Excited to make home debut against Avalanche

by Chris Stevenson / NHL.com Correspondent

AVALANCHE (27-25-4) at SENATORS (25-24-6)

TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, ALT, RDS, TSN5, NHL.TV 

OTTAWA - Defenseman Dion Phaneuf will make his home ice debut for the Ottawa Senators at Canadian Tire Centre on Thursday against the Colorado Avalanche, who have lost four consecutive games. 

Phaneuf, acquired Tuesday in a nine-player trade with the Toronto Maple Leafs, hasn't had much time to catch his breath since the trade. 
  
He flew to Detroit from Calgary, where the Maple Leafs were preparing to play the Flames, on Tuesday. He played 21:42 in his Senators debut against the Red Wings in a 3-1 loss Wednesday. 
  
"I'm excited to be in this room, be part of this team and play in front of these fans tonight. For me, it's a very exciting day," Phaneuf said. 
  
"It's like the first day of school for me, walking around and seeing everything for the very first time." 
  
As the captain of the Maple Leafs, Phaneuf was a target for Senators fans on occasion in the Battle of Ontario. He was both cheered and jeered at Canadian Tire Centre because a large number of Toronto fans would often attend Maple Leafs games in Ottawa. He was asked if he were nervous about skating out in a Senators uniform and the kind of reception he might receive. 
  
"I've played in this building a lot and the fans are great," he said. "There's a lot of energy in the building. I've heard it both ways. I'm excited to play in front of the fans of Ottawa." 
  
Phaneuf played most of the game against the Red Wings with Cody Ceci, and said the transition was easier than he thought it would be. 
  
"Playing with [Ceci], he's a real good player. It wasn't as big of an adjustment as I thought," he said. "You get to know the guys' nicknames. Talk is a big thing when you're playing with a new group of players, and I thought the guys were great with talking and that makes the game easier." 
  
"I liked him, I think as advertised," Senators coach Dave Cameron said of Phaneuf. "He came in, real solid, plays all situations. I like the fact he's vocal, so I'm happy. I was happy when we got him and I'm happy now that I've seen him play." 
  
The Senators two-game winning streak ended against the Red Wings and their momentum in their pursuit of a playoff spot dulled in large part because the power play, on which Phaneuf played 5:04, was 1-for-7 with four shots on goal in 13:24 (including a 5-on-3 for 27 seconds). 
  
The Senators power play is ranked 30th in the NHL at home with 11 goals in 88 attempts (12.5 percent). 
  
"We struggled. We had different units. We weren't comfortable, I didn't think," forward Mark Stone said. "We didn't move the puck very well. Maybe a little bit too predictable. At the same time, it got us a big goal, just needed to maybe get us that goal a little earlier in the game." 
  
Stone, who has been part of a hot line with Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Zack Smith (a combined 21 points in five games) said the Senators don't need to change much against Colorado. 
  
"We need to score more goals on the power play, that's for sure," Stone said. "You get seven chances, you've got to take advantage of that. You've got to score more than one goal, especially early on in the game when you're chasing. We had a good start last night. We had some good looks and we could have easily been up one or two early. We had our looks and we just need to continue to play that way." 
  
Andrew Hammond will start in goal for the Senators. His last start was Jan. 22, a 5-2 loss against the New York Islanders. 
  
Semyon Varlamov is expected to start in goal for the Avalanche, who did not skate Thursday morning. They are starting a three-game road trip. 
  
During their four-game losing streak (0-3-1), their power play is 1-for-13. 
  
Here are the projected lineups: 
  
AVALANCHE 
  
Mikhail Grigorenko - Nathan MacKinnon - Matt Duchene  
  
Gabriel Landeskog - Carl Soderberg - Blake Comeau  
  
Alex Tanguay - John Mitchell - Jarome Iginla  
  
Cody McLeod - Chris Wagner - Andreas Martinsen  
  
Francois Beauchemin - Erik Johnson  
  
Nick Holden - Tyson Barrie  
  
Chris Bigras - Andrew Bodnarchuk  
  
Semyon Varlamov 
  
Calvin Pickard  
  
  
Scratched: Nate Guenin, Zach Redmond.  
  
Injured: Jesse Winchester (concussion), Brad Stuart (back), Ben Street (chest), Reto Berra (ankle), Jack Skille (concussion). 
  
  
SENATORS 
  
Mike Hoffman - Kyle Turris - Bobby Ryan  
  
Zack Smith - Jean-Gabriel Pageau - Mark Stone 
  
Shane Prince - Mika Zibanejad - Alex Chiasson  
  
Ryan Dzingel - Curtis Lazar - Chris Neil  
  
Marc Methot - Erik Karlsson  
  
Dion Phaneuf - Cody Ceci 
  
Patrick Wiercioch - Mark Borowiecki  
  
Andrew Hammond 
  
Craig Anderson  
  
Scratched: Chris Wideman, Nick Paul. 
  
Injured: Chris Phillips (back), Clarke MacArthur (concussion), David Dziurzynski (undisclosed). 
  
Status report: Wiercioch, a healthy scratch against Detroit, will return to the lineup against Colorado and Wideman will come out. Wiercioch will play on the left side with Mark Borowiecki shifting over to the right in the third pair. … The Senators sent forward Nick Paul to Binghamton of the American Hockey League on Thursday. 
  
Who's hot: Smith has three goals and an assist in his past three games … Iginla has three assists in his past three games ... Beauchemin has a goal and an assist in his past two games.

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