Brady Tkachuk returns to boost hot-start Senators vs. Sharks

Brady Tkachuk returns to boost hot-start Senators vs. Sharks

Brady Tkachuk will make his season debut for the Ottawa Senators when they host the San Jose Sharks on Thursday.

Tkachuk, who signed a seven-year, $57.5 million contract on Oct. 14, has missed the team’s first three games as he worked to get caught up after holding out.

“I’ve been chomping at the bit for a while now and definitely excited to go,” he said.

The left winger, who had 17 goals and 19 assists (36 points) in 56 games last season, expects it to take some time to adjust when he takes to the ice. But while finding his game legs, he’ll be able to count on the familiarity of being reunited with linemates Josh Norris and Drake Batherson.

“It’s been a while since I played last,” Tkachuk said. “So I think it’s going to be a little bit of an adjustment, getting up to speed with different types of plays that usually comes easy midseason but at the start takes time. But I think for myself, just try to keep it as simple as I can, just move it, skate, get open and try to really simplify my game and make life easier for Josh and Drake.”

His return will see second-year forward Tim Stutzle slide in on a line with center Chris Tierney and winger Alex Formenton. The newly formed line has combined for four goals through three games and has the potential to deliver even more with the speed and skill of both Stutzle and Formenton.

The Senators are coming off a 3-2 win against Dallas on Sunday, recording their second win of the season in three games thus far, a huge improvement from the 11 games it took to record a pair of victories a season ago.

“I still have nightmares about how long it took us to get our second win (last season),” Senators coach D.J. Smith said. “But to get two wins in the three games is good for us. It gives us some confidence.”

The Sharks arrive in Ottawa on the heels of a 5-0 rout of the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday.

Rookie Jonathan Dahlen, a second-round draft pick by the Senators in 2016, scored his first two NHL goals in the win and has been a solid fit on a line with Logan Couture and Timo Meier.

“They’ve had some chemistry throughout camp and we’ve kept them together for the most part,” Sharks coach Bob Boughner said. “Dahlen’s a real smart player, and I think he’s a good complement to that line.”

San Jose won each of its first two games, scoring nine goals while allowing only three — all of which came in their season-opening win against Winnipeg.

The Sharks have been steady in their own end, limiting the chances against. On Tuesday, they held Montreal to 21 shots, including only three in the first period and four through the first 15 minutes of the third period.

And when goaltender Adin Hill has been called upon, he’s been up to the task.

“We’ve played two excellent hockey games,” Hill said. “Both games, we’ve outshot the other team, outchanced them and outplayed them. We deserved two out of two wins, and we do, so hopefully we can keep it rolling against Ottawa.”

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