|Stars, Senators hope to maintain good vibes|
OTTAWA -- Two teams coming off impressive wins will be looking to start the week off on the right note when the Dallas Stars visit the Ottawa Senators at Canadian Tire Centre on Monday.
The Senators (2-2-1) jumped into an early three-goal lead then cruised to a 5-1 victory over the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday afternoon. It was a solid bounce back from a mistake-filled three-goal loss to the Philadelphia Flyers which didn't rattle a young group that -- while expected to spend the season dwelling near the conference and division cellars -- has adopted a tight, family-like bond.
"I think we've made a conscientious effort that we're going to have each other's backs," said defenseman Chris Wideman, who scored two goals against the Kings in 8:05 of ice time. "Win, lose or draw, were going to work as hard as we possibly can, and give an honest effort. There's a lot of enjoyment in that."
Nine of the players on the Senators roster Saturday weren't with the team for Game 82 last season. Coach Guy Boucher says the new group is "gelling fast" both on and off the ice.
"The young guys have been developing, not just because they're being coached or just getting experience on ice." Boucher told reporters after Sunday's brief practice. "A big part is because they're well surrounded every moment of the day. Even the guys who don't have anybody in particular are getting help here every day, making sure everybody is incorporated as fast they can and feeling good about being here and feeling part of it.
"It's not just at the rink. The other day we had the Justin Timberlake concert and I think every single player was here. They don't want to leave anybody out and that
s a great thing.?
While the Senators built a 3-0 lead on Saturday, the Stars (3-1-0) recovered from one bad game for a 5-3 win over the Anaheim Ducks. Dallas scored four goals during a 6:32 span of a second period in which it outshot the Anaheim Ducks by a 30-4 count.
Of that middle 20-minute segment, Stars goalie Anton Khudobin said, per NHL.com: "If I could have a pillow I would probably fall asleep."
The explosive potential of the Stars is going to be something opponents will have to do their best to guard against all season.
"We do have that ability, we proved it already," Khudobin said. "I think we just need to play like this all 60 minutes. That would be better."
The Stars are determined to qualify for the post-season tournament after falling short the last two seasons. Building on a fast start would help.
"You can't make the playoffs the first 20 games, but you certainly can make it really difficult in the NHL if you don't keep pace," Dallas defenseman Connor Carrick, who has a goal and three assists in the first four games, told NHL.com. "We want to establish ourselves with some of the marquee teams in the league, and it's going to take more than a four-game effort. But if you're taking four game chunks and go three and one, you look pretty good after 82."