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Senators duo thirsting for first win

by Rob Brodie / Ottawa Senators
They’ve had the chance to get their feet wet, as hectic as that has turned out to be.

Now the newest Ottawa Senators would like to see the dry spell end where it matters most of all.

“That would be the biggest thing,” forward Cory Stillman said Thursday when asked how anxious he is to taste his first victory in an Ottawa uniform. “When you come to a (new) team, you want to win as quickly as possible. But we’ve had a loss here at home and an overtime loss, and hopefully we can stop the losing here after two (games).”

Stillman and defenceman Mike Commodore, who were acquired Monday from the Carolina Hurricanes in exchange for Joe Corvo and Patrick Eaves, haven’t exactly had the chance to ease into life with their new team. They arrived Tuesday morning after practice, suited up later that night (a 5-1 home-ice loss to the Buffalo Sabres), then jumped on a plane for Newark, N.J., where the Senators fell 3-2 in overtime to the Devils on Wednesday evening.

“It would have been nice to be 2-0 with the new club, but it was not meant to be,” said Commodore. “There’s nowhere to go but up and get better. I’m looking forward to it.”

That sentiment might apply to the entire team, as head coach John Paddock tries to figure out where to slot in his new assets, both in the regular lineup and on specialty teams. He agreed two days of practice before Saturday’s rematch with the Devils at Scotiabank Place (7 p.m., CBC, Team 1200) will help the cause for one and all.

“It just helps to feel familiar with the people around you and just the routine of us as a team,” Paddock said of the new additions. “It’s a little bit of an adjustment for everybody … they just get thrown into games and we’re not hitting on all cylinders. It’s hard to get a read.”

There’s also the matter of getting used to the Senators’ style of play, which Commodore admitted isn’t as “regimented” as he’s seen in other National Hockey League stops.

“It’s a little more free flowing,” he said. “It’s a talented group of players. It’s just going to be (a matter) of getting used to where they like to go and where they’re going to be on the ice. And that just takes a little time.”

With only 24 games left in the regular season, everyone seems to agree the time is now to start finding the consistent level of play that will be needed for a long playoff run. The Senators looked like world-beaters in dismantling the Montreal Canadiens 6-1 on Saturday night at Scotiabank Place, then did a 180-degree turn in the loss to Buffalo three nights later.

“We’ve shown signs of (being) a great team and shown signs of a very average team, which is disappointing,” said centre Mike Fisher. “We’ve got to get on top of our game, which we haven’t been lately.

“There’s (24) games left here, so it’s going to be a good test for us going down the stretch.”

Added captain Daniel Alfredsson: “We’ve had too many ups and downs. When we’ve played well, we’ve played really well. When we’ve played poorly, we’ve played really poorly. We want to get to where we’re more consistent.”

The newest Senators are eager to help point the team in that direction.

“We have two days and we can practise here now,” said Stillman. “Hopefully, we get on a winning streak starting Saturday night.”

Around the boards

Veteran defenceman Luke Richardson has been named the Senators' nominee for the Bill Masterton Trophy, which is awarded annually to the player who best exemplifies the qualities of "perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey." He is on track to play his 1,400th career game on Feb. 25, when the Toronto Maple Leafs visit Scotiabank Place ... Fewer than 50 tickets remain for Saturday's game against the Devils.

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