VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) - Ryan Dzingel might have found a home on the Ottawa Senators’ second line.
The second-year forward had the first two-goal game of his career and Craig Anderson made 22 saves Tuesday night as Ottawa defeated the Vancouver Canucks 3-0.
Dzingel suited up alongside Derick Brassard and Bobby Ryan after spending the first five games of the season on the fourth line, and the speedy wing made the most of his opportunity.
“It was easy to play with those guys. They’re great NHLers and great people,” Dzingel said. “Two good friends, and to be honest I just had a lot of fun out there - just trying not to get in their way.
“I was proud to play with those two guys.”
The 24-year-old split time between Ottawa and the AHL last season, registering three goals and six assists in 30 NHL games. He already has four goals and two assists through six games this season.
“The whole summer I didn’t just focus on just making the team,” said the native of Wheaton, Illinois. “I came to make a difference. My mindset was not to just be good enough, it was to be better.”
Dzingel said moving up the lineup would have been more difficult if he didn’t already have great relationships off the ice with both Ryan and Brassard. He showed up early to training camp and lived with Ryan for a time before moving into Brassard’s house once the season started.
“There aren’t any nerves when you know how good they are,” Dzingel said. “I just had to play my game.”
Anderson entered play with a 3.66 goals-against average and an .866 save percentage but was flawless as Ottawa (4-2-0) opened a three-game road trip through western Canada with a solid defensive effort that was capped by Jean-Gabriel Pageau’s empty-net goal.
“I felt as the game went on I was progressively getting better,” said Anderson, who picked up his first shutout of the season and the 34th of his career. “The way we played defensively allowed me to only have to make one or two big saves and when that’s the case, usually you can have a pretty good game.”
Ryan Miller made 25 stops for Vancouver (4-2-1), which has lost three straight and lost at home for the first time.
“They were hard on the puck,” Miller said. “We started to make some adjustments. You have to be ready for that kind of stuff.”
After opening the scoring in the first period, Dzingel doubled Ottawa’s lead at 2:12 of the third, taking a slick no-look feed from Ryan in front and beating Miller.
“Since Day 1 at every practice and every game he’s shown that he wants to be here, that he’s ready to survive in the NHL before contributing offensively,” first-year Senators head coach Guy Boucher said. “He came here with the right attitude of: ‘I’m staying here, I’ll block shots, I’ll kill penalties, I’ll backcheck, I’ll do whatever I need to do to be on this team and pay the price.’ He’s getting all the rewards.”
Ottawa had surrendered nine goals in third periods coming into Tuesday, and Anderson had to be sharp on a shot off the stick of Bo Horvat from the slot with about 12 minutes left in regulation.
Anderson then stopped Sven Baertschi on a breakaway - one of just three Vancouver shots in the third - with six minutes to go to preserve the shutout before Pageau scored his first with Miller on the bench for an extra skater.
“I think our players are absolutely buying in,” said Boucher, who is still in the process of implementing his system. “I love the willingness to pay attention to small details and how to be unselfish.”
Ottawa carried the play for much of the first period and led 1-0 on Dzingel’s third of the season at 7:38 after the Senators jumped on a Canucks’ turnover in the neutral zone. Miller stopped Brassard’s initial shot on a 2-on-2 rush with Vancouver’s forwards in the middle of a change, but Dzingel was right there for the rebound.
Notes: Troy Stecher made his NHL debut for Vancouver after being called up from the AHL on Monday. The 22-year-old signed with the organization as a undrafted college free agent in the offseason, and took the place of Christopher Tanev (lower-body injury) alongside Alexander Edler on Vancouver’s top defense pairing. … Ottawa snapped a seven-game losing streak at Rogers Arena dating to 2004. … Also missing for Vancouver were Fs Alexandre Burrows (neck) and Derek Dorsett (shoulder). Jayson Megna was recalled from the AHL and suited up for his first game with the club on the fourth line.
Senators: Visit Calgary on Friday.
Canucks: host Edmonton on Friday and Washington on Saturday, but after that play just seven of their next 21 at home.
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