Reeling Knights aim to rebound in Ottawa

OTTAWA -- After such a strong start, the Vegas Golden Knights are reeling.

But Ottawa Senators coach Guy Boucher is still expecting the first-year squad to put up a "major" fight when they arrive at Canadian Tire Centre on Saturday afternoon.

"This is probably the hardest working team in the league, and that's how they get their success," Boucher said of the Golden Knights, who are 8-4-0 after dropping their last three games. "They've got a lot of guys with experience. They started the year being told they weren't good enough, their old teams didn't protect them and they ended up in Vegas. I'd be like them, too. They're on the ice and they're hungry. They want to prove something.

"We're going to be ready for a major battle. It's going to be relentless against relentless, because that's what I think our team is too. It's going to be a great game to watch."

The Senators are 6-2-5 after rebounding from a thrashing at the hands of the Montreal Canadiens to defeat the Detroit Red Wings 3-1 on Thursday.

"I don't want to have bounce back games," said winger Mark Stone, who leads Ottawa with seven goals. "I think as a team, especially, we want to have just good consistent hockey throughout the whole year. We don't want to be talking about bouncing back the whole time."

While it will be the Senators' last game before heading to Sweden next week for back-to-backs Friday and Saturday against the Colorado Avalanche, the Golden Knights will be playing their fourth in a six-game road trip. Down to the fourth goalie on their depth chart because of injuries, the Knights will again turn to Maxime Lagace, who made 27 saves in Thursday's 2-1 loss to the Boston Bruins.

"We seem to get a goalie going, he plays three great games and then he gets hurt," said Golden Knights coach Gerard Gallant. "That has been the pattern so far. It's part of the game, with players getting hurt, but not too often do you get three goaltenders hurt in a 10-game segment."

The one goal scored by the Golden Knights in Boston marked the first time they haven't netted at least two.

"We played better (against the Bruins)," winger Pierre-Edouard Bellemare said on the Golden Knights' website. "If we play the same way, we should be able to create a lot of offense, even against a good defense."

The Senators' defense is spearheaded by Erik Karlsson, who as of Friday morning was tied for the league lead in assists by blue liners with 12 despite missing the first five games while recovering from offseason foot surgery.

"If he decides he wants to finish the game, he might be able to finish the game," said Bellemare. "That's one of those players. It's one guy, I think you have to play hard on him. Not give him too much time.

"You might think you have him in the D-zone, then suddenly he's in an offensive position somewhere."

Craig Anderson will start in goal for Ottawa.

Updated November 3, 2017

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