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Stützle's confidence growing

by Matt Tidcombe @matttidcombe

Tim Stützle is in a groove right now.

The 19-year-old has goals in three straight games and Thursday night had his first career multi-point game to lead the Ottawa Senators to a 3-2 win over the Montreal Canadiens.

"Every game, every shift I play, I feel more comfortable on the ice," Stützle said.

The German rookie joined some elite company after his performance Thursday. He became the second youngest Senator (19 years, 20 days) to record a three-point game (after Alexandre Daigle, 18 years, 244 days) and became just the third teenager in Sens history to score in three straight games, and the first since 1993, joining Daigle and Alexei Yashin.

He also became the first teenager with a three-point performance in Montreal since Philadelphia's Dainius Zubrus on Oct. 11, 1997.

"For his age, it's unbelievable what he's doing out here," Sens head coach D.J. Smith said post-game. "He's tracking, he's blocking shots, and you get that feeling he can do all things. At the end of the game, I felt comfortable with him out there.

"He knows how to play the game the right way and he was exceptional tonight."

His teammates are noticing too.

"He's adjusting pretty well to North America," Thomas Chabot said. "Just the way he skates and sees the ice and makes plays, it's one of a kind. He's the third pick overall. There's a reason why he's so skilled and so fast.

"It's always a bit harder at the start for guys coming from Europe after playing on the big ice and getting use to playing in the NHL but he's just really seeming to find his way now."

Stützle also registered his first career assist Thursday on Chabot's goal and added a second later in the game on Connor Brown's marker.

He was delighted to score past Carey Price, saying "he's one of the best goalies in the league and to score against such a great goalie is definitely a great feeling."

The trust is also there from his head coach. Smith put Stützle on the ice in the final minute Thursday with the Sens looking to close out a road victory against the North Division leaders.

"He gave me the confidence to play me in the last minute and that's definitely a great feeling," Stützle said.

In eight games - he missed three games earlier in the season due to injury - he has four goals and six points while averaging 13:51 a night.

Two of his goals, including his tally Thursday, have come on the power play.

"He's dangerous [on the power play]," Smith said. "He can shoot the puck in motion. He doesn't stick handle it. He's just dynamic. Every game he continues to get better.

"He's a threat all over the ice. He's obviously [going to be] a first line power play guy for a long time. It's just amazing that he's doing it this soon."

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