OTTAWA, ON – Mark Stone made his return to Ottawa memorable - for himself and his new coach.
Stone scored a goal and picked up an assist, leading Vegas to a 4-2 victory over the Senators on Thursday night in Peter DeBoer's debut as the Golden Knights' coach.
The win snapped a four-game losing streak for the Knights, who fired Gerard Gallant on Wednesday. Peter Stastny, Chandler Stephenson and Ryan Reaves also scored for Vegas.
Stone, traded to Vegas last February, received a video tribute during the first TV timeout, with Senators fans giving him a standing ovation. Stone took to the ice to thank the fans and gave them a thumbs up.
“It was nice to get the win,” Stone said. “It was weird, for sure. Six great years over there. They took a chance on me from Day One. I was no shoo-in to be an NHL hockey player and this team helped me develop and mold me into the player I am today. It was unfortunate that we weren’t able to end my career here, but at the same time Vegas has become home and the place that I want to spend the rest of my career.”
DeBoer didn’t have a lot of time to settle in as he met with the team briefly Thursday morning and then prepared for the game.
“I told them if I call any of them Jumbo or Burnsie to kick me,” joked DeBoer. “I didn’t make any mistakes on names, but it was a good night. It’s a good group and, like I said, a tough week and some hard days. I thought it was nice to get a win and kind of move past that.”
DeBoer is looking forward to having some time together with the team both on and off the ice as he realizes there will be some adjustments.
On Wednesday, players took responsibility for Gallant’s firing and know it’s on them to turn things around.
“Nothing’s really going to change,” Stone said. “We know we need to be better. We know we have a good team. There’s obviously going to be little tweaks that (DeBoer) is going to want us to do, but for us we need to get back to playing with that character we know we have.”
Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 33 shots for Vegas, tying the New York Rangers' Henrik Lundqvist for fifth place on the NHL's career list with 458 wins.
Craig Anderson made 39 saves in his first game since Jan. 7, but the Senators extended their losing streak to nine games (0-5-4). Ottawa has scored just 19 goals through the winless drought. Vladislav Namestnikov and Connor Brown scored for the Senators.
“It’s not ideal when you’re dealing with young kids and confidence,” Senators coach D.J. Smith said. “As long as we keep getting better, I think the biggest thing is we got healthy on the back end and I think we’ll turn the corner there.”
Ottawa hosts Calgary on Saturday night before an eight-day break and would hate to leave with a 10-game losing streak on their minds.
“When you’re a young team and you’re learning how to win, (it’s tough),” said Brown, who also had an assist. “A lot of these games could have been won easily, especially the three prior to this one where we lost in OT and I thought we played pretty good games. It comes with maturity and learning, so we’re learning how to play and how to play with a lead and play from behind.
"Obviously, it’s important for us not to get discouraged and try to stay as positive as possible in a situation like this and focus on the process.”
Vegas led 1-0 before Stone scored late in the second period on a wraparound effort.
Vegas made it 3-0 early in the third as Stephenson scored a short-handed after Thomas Chabot had a giveaway.
Ottawa got on the board one minute later when Chris Tierney found Namestnikov down low for a one-timer.
Vegas made it 4-1 after Anderson was caught behind the net and couldn’t get back in time to stop Reaves from picking up his sixth of the season.
The Senators cut the lead in half as Brown scored on the power play.
Vegas opened the scoring just 36 seconds into the game when Stastny and Stone had a little give-and-go with Stastny beating Anderson for his 13th of the season.
NOTES: Jean-Gabriel Pageau was a late scratch due to an upper-body injury. ... Brown played his 300th career game. ... Scott Sabourin returned to the Senators' lineup after being a healthy scratch the last five games. ... Vegas will be without William Karlsson who is out week-to-week with an upper-body injury.
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