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Pageau 'excited' to live biggest dream against Habs

by Rob Brodie / Ottawa Senators

The Gatineau Olympiques must wait at least another day for the return of their offensive sparkplug.

Jean-Gabriel Pageau has a dream night to enjoy first on the other side of the Ottawa River.

When the Ottawa Senators face off against the Montreal Canadiens in a pre-season matchup on Friday night at Scotiabank Place (7:30 p.m., Rogers TV, Team 1200), nobody is likely to savour the moment more than the 18-year-old Pageau. Not only will it mark his first National Hockey League action, but he'll do it against the team he grew up cheering for as a youngster.

Mind you, that all changed back in June, when the Senators made Pageau a fourth-round pick (96th overall) in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft in St. Paul, Minn. And much like Ottawa 67's standout Shane Prince got his moment with the big club during Wednesday's 2-1 pre-season win over the Boston Bruins, the 5-9, 165-pound Pageau now gets his turn.

"I'm sure it'll be special," Pageau said with an eye toward facing the Habs. "That's my dream since I was young. I'm going to be stressed a little bit, but after a couple of shifts, I'm going to be all right."

The Senators are equally curious to see how Pageau handles the big stage.

"For him, it's about seeing how he's going to adapt to an NHL game, with the pace and execution," said Pierre Dorion, the Senators' director of player personnel. "I'm sure he's going to try to limit his mistakes and see if he can generate a bit of offence. That's what we're looking to see from him in this one game.

"I'm sure, like most kids playing in their first NHL game, there'll probably be family and friends here that have seen him many times, but this is a different environment so I'm sure he'll be nervous. But I don't think he should put too much pressure on himself. It's one NHL exhibition game and I think there's a lot of bigger, better things to come. (He should) just play the game."

Pageau has been soaking up every bit of his first NHL training camp experience.

"Since (the first) week, I've lived day to day and learned from the coach or the trainers," said Pageau, who's taking in every nugget of knowledge he can from veterans such as captain Daniel Alfredsson and Jason Spezza. "I need to be consistent and play always moving my feet. But I'm happy to be here. Playing with Alfie, Spezza ... that's a great experience. I learn from those players. They gave us good tips and I'm enjoying it."

Senators head coach Paul MacLean was impressed with the play of Prince — who was returned to the 67's today — against the Bruins and expects more of the same from Pageau on Friday.

"He works heart, he's heart and soul, and he's a good player," said MacLean. "Neither of them are great big guys, but both of them have great hockey sense and good puck skills. Both of them have impressed me with how they play the game and see the ice."

*****

The Senators' 25-man roster for Friday's game against the Montreal Canadiens at Scotiabank Place:

Goaltenders — Craig Anderson, Alex Auld, Robin Lehner.

Defencemen — Jared Cowen, Chris Phillips, Brian Lee, David Rundblad, Filip Kuba, Patrick Wiercioch, Erik Karlsson, Mark Borowiecki.

Forwards — Milan Michalek, Daniel Alfredsson, Zack Smith, Bobby Butler, Jason Spezza, Andre Petersson, Nikita Filatov, Erik Condra, Stephane Da Costa, Chris Neil, Jean-Gabriel Pageau, Derek Grant, Mike Hoffman, Nick Foligno, Mika Zibanejad.

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