The parallels between the Dallas Stars and Ottawa Senators when they meet in Ottawa in Sunday’s lone NHL game are eerily similar.
Both are coming off disheartening 3-1 road losses on Saturday after earning 3-2 victories in their season openers.
While the Stars followed up Thursday’s overtime win over the New York Rangers with a defeat in Boston, the Senators kicked off the campaign with a win over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday before dropping the second half of the home-and-home set against their provincial rivals.
The comparisons don’t end there. Both squads were lamenting their first-period performances on Saturday, which resulted in them chasing the game.
“We knew they were going to come hard,” Stars defenseman Ryan Suter said of the Bruins. “They just kept coming and we didn’t have an answer. It was hard for us to make plays coming out of our end. By the time you get the puck out to the neutral zone, guys were tired and trying to get off.
“It’s a tough way to play when you’re changing in the neutral zone instead of when you have the offense going, like we did in the second,” Suter said.
The Senators were singing from the same hymnal after they trailed the Maple Leafs 2-0 just past the eight-minute mark and couldn’t draw even.
“It wasn’t the start we wanted. In the second period, we pressed and were back in the game, and they got a big goal,” forward Drake Batherson said. “It was a bad start, and we’ll bounce back (Sunday).”
Added coach DJ Smith: “The second and third period, we played as hard as you play to win a game in the NHL, but you can’t feel your way around a game on the road, and we did that.”
Stars coach Rick Bowness made a simple reply when asked what he wants to see from his charges in Ottawa: “We’re expecting to go out there and take the game to them.”
Despite the Senators’ first-period deficit, Batherson believed he had scored in the dying seconds of the second period to even the score, but Toronto coach Sheldon Keefe successfully challenged that the Ottawa winger was offside when he entered the offensive zone.
“Sometimes they go in for you, but this one went the other way,” Batherson said. “It ties the game up, and it would have been a big momentum shift. We had the power play goal, and it would have been nice to tie it going into the third.”
The Senators may receive a boost for Sunday’s game.
Forward Brady Tkachuk, who missed all of training camp before signing a seven-year, $57.5 million contract just prior to Wednesday’s season opener, may play for the first time this season. Tkachuk, who led the Senators with 36 points last season and was tied for second with 17 goals, is definitely itching to suit up.
“If it was up to him, he’d play, but my job is protecting him,” Smith said. “It’s like waiting for Christmas when you already know what gift you’re getting.”
–Field Level Media