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Locke hoping to supply offensive key for Sens

by Rob Brodie / Ottawa Senators
Robin Lehner will become the first teenager in more than two years to tend goal in an NHL game when he goes between the pipes for the Senators tonight against the Islanders at Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, N.Y. (Photo by Andre Ringuette/NHLI via Getty Images).

Maybe he can be the key to unlocking the Ottawa Senators' struggling offence.

But more than anything, Corey Locke wants to do whatever it takes to help the Senators earn a much-needed victory tonight, when Ottawa faces off against the Islanders at Nassau Veterans' Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale, N.Y. (7 p.m., TSN, Team 1200). Ottawa heads into this matchup winless (0-4-2) in its previous six outings.

"I'm really excited," the 26-year-old Locke said earlier today as he prepared to make his debut with the Senators. "I'm happy to be here, happy to get the call and, hopefully, I can help out the Sens tonight and get a win."

The Senators would surely love to see a little of the magic that has propelled Locke, a former Ottawa 67's star, to the top of the American Hockey League scoring race with the Binghamton Senators. He's produced 55 points in 38 games for the B-Sens so far this season.

"I've just tried to be consistent," Locke said when asked about his success to date in Binghamton. "To be scoring (a lot), you have to bring it every night. And I also had great linemates down there that were scoring when I was feeding them the puck. It's a group effort, not just one player."

Senators head coach Cory Clouston is hopeful he's created the same type of situation for Locke heading into tonight's game, when he'll skate alongside Nick Foligno and Ryan Shannon. The trio has shown signs of clicking already in the one practice and pre-game skate they've had together.

"Corey’s a smart, intelligent guy," Clouston said following the Senators' pre-game skate earlier today. "The two linemates we’ve got him with right now ... I think they’ll complement each other very well. Corey’s got some creativity and offensive upside. Ryan skates hard on the forecheck, good puck skills, very tenacious and Nicky’s a good-sized body who can go to the net and shoot the puck. So we feel that’s going to be a good line for us tonight."

Added Locke: "I think it's a good line. We've got some speed and, hopefully, I can get the puck to those guys when they're flying wide and they can get in (on the net). They've got the talent to score some goals."

"Corey’s a smart, intelligent guy. The two linemates we’ve got him with right now ... I think they’ll complement each other very well." - Cory Clouston
Clouston and the Senators are also anxious to see 19-year-old Robin Lehner make his first National Hockey League start tonight. He's the first teenager to start an NHL game in goal since Jonathan Bernier of the Los Angeles Kings did so back on Oct. 14, 2007.

Not that Lehner, who recently played on a high-profile stage for Sweden at the 2011 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship in Buffalo, is likely to be overwhelmed by the occasion.

"Robin has just been at world juniors and we think that prepared him well ... he's played well the last couple of games in Binghamton," said Clouston. "We just need him to go out and play his game. We need to play well in front of him, defend well and limit the second and third opportunities.

"What we need Robin to do is just be patient on the shooter, use his (6-foot-3) size to his advantage and don’t make himself small ... being in position is crucial for him. When he does that, he’s a very good goaltender because of his size. And he is quick. For a big man, he’s got good agility and he’s a confident young man."

Around the boards

Defenceman Brian Lee returns to the Ottawa lineup tonight, with Chris Campoli a healthy scratch against the Isles, his former team ... The youngest player ever to suit up for the Senators in a regular-season game? Former No. 1 overall pick Alexandre Daigle (18 years, 241 days) ... Ottawa returns home Friday night to face the Calgary Flames at Scotiabank Place (7:30 p.m., Sportsnet East, Team 1200). Fewer than 600 tickets remain for the game.

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