Mark Stone’s play is making his case for long-term stay with Senators

Mark Stone isn’t officially wearing the captain’s “C” with the Ottawa Senators, but his leadership was on full display against the Montreal Canadiens.

“I remember when I played (Montreal) for the first time,” Stone said after his second goal of the night, a one-time slap shot from the left faceoff circle, gave the Senators a 4-3 overtime victory on Saturday night. “It is a ‘wow’ factor. The building, when you step out for the warm-up, you feel that vibe. As a guy who has been through so many of those games, you have to lead by example and I thought a lot of guys did that.

“I’m not saying our young guys didn’t play well. They still played well, but, in these types of games, you have to show the way.”

What’s intriguing about the Senators impressive start (4-2-1) is that questions about the pending unrestricted free-agent status of forwards Stone, Matt Duchene and Ryan Dzingel have quieted.

They’ve shown no signs of not wanting to be here long-term.

Duchene scored his first goal of the season against Montreal and set up Stone’s game winner, keeping him ahead of a point-per-game pace. Contract discussions between Senators general manager Pierre Dorion and Pat Brisson, Duchene’s agent, are on-going.

Talks with Stone can’t officially begin until the new year because of restrictions in the collective agreement between the National Hockey League and the players’ association, but games like Saturday should have Senators owner Eugene Melnyk thinking about opening his wallet wider to keep Stone around to lead the youth movement.

If that happens, the captain’s “C” should be stitched onto his gear.

“Stone led, but you also look at what Duchene did,” Senators head coach Guy Boucher said. “We’ve talked about our young guys a lot, but you can’t forget that the older guys that are here are definitely special players and they showed it again.”

WHITE NOISE: Round and round he goes, where he stops, nobody knows. Welcome to Colin White’s adventure in the Senators lineup. The 21-year-old centre/winger spent much of the second half of Saturday’s game on a line with Duchene and Mikkel Boedker … at the expense of Bobby Ryan. After the game, White wore gigantic green Hulk gloves, one of the Senators internal rewards for hard-working efforts. “I felt comfortable out there. I started moving my feet again,” White said. “That definitely opened up some space for me and I’ve got to continue to do that.” White was notable for the neutral-zone bank pass that set up Boedker’s impossible-angle goal on Carey Price, another burst of speed through the middle and an overtime shoving and punching match with Canadiens rookie Jesperi Kotkaniemi.

THE BOUCHER SHUFFLE AND THE PAUL SHUTTLE: Boucher says he’s comfortable playing White on the wing with Duchene and Boedker, but Jean-Gabriel Pageau’s injury has created a need for an additional centre. That’s why White has acted as a de facto fourth-line pivot for extended stretches. “If White fits with Duchene, we’re short a centre,” Boucher said. Zack Smith is doing a solid job — he played 19 minutes 12 seconds on Saturday and won 15 of 20 faceoffs, raising his season winning percentage to 54.5) — but, in an injury-free world, Smith would be playing left wing … Tom Pyatt and Paul Carey have also seen time at centre, but it’s a tad baffling that Nick Paul has yet to get a shot. Paul spent most of last season as a centre with Belleville in the American Hockey League, but he he has been a healthy scratch for the past three games with Ottawa. He was re-assigned to the AHL Sunday. If Max McCormick return from a groin injury for Tuesday’s game against the Boston Bruins, there will be no need to recall Paul.

THE DEFENCE NEVER RESTS: After playing a lofty 6:59 in the third period Saturday, Christian Jaros was also returned to Belleville on Sunday. The Senators have gone 3-0 while Boucher has used a roster of 11 forwards and seven defencemen with Cody Ceci sidelined by injury. What happens if and when Ceci is ready to return? … Chris Wideman played only 2:24 in the third period, 1:11 of that on the power play.

THE NEW MATH: The combined NHL salaries of the seven Senators defencemen who played Saturday was $6.323 million. Maybe we should be calling them The Six Million Dollar (Defence)Men… If Boedker wasn’t a hockey player, perhaps he should try trigonometry. Everyone’s still trying to figure out how he lifted a shot from below the goal line over Price’s shoulder … Price remains stuck on 288 wins, one shy of Patrick Roy for second all-time as a Canadiens netminder behind only Jacques Plante … Stone on Chris Tierney, who is tied with Thomas Chabot with a team-leading nine points: “He’s very simple, but effective. He doesn’t make those ‘wow’ plays, but he makes the right plays and those are the types of guys that everybody loves to play with.”

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