Battle has begun for Sens

Mika Zibanejad was the Ottawa Senators first round draft pick in 2011. (DARREN BROWN/QMI Agency)

Mika Zibanejad was the Ottawa Senators first round draft pick in 2011. (DARREN BROWN/QMI Agency)

Bruce Garrioch, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:36 AM ET

OSHAWA — A battle between Stephane Da Costa and Mika Zibanejad could become the centre of attention during the upcoming Senators training camp.

With the No. 2 centre job open, the two Senators prospects took big steps forward in a 6-5 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks Sunday. Da Costa scored a natural hat trick and Zibanejad chipped in with a three-point effort.

“We’re happy and it kind of justifies what we’re thinking: They both have a chance to crack our lineup,” said Senators assistant GM Tim Murray. “Both won’t. It will be one or the other or neither.

“I would expect that Stephane Da Costa, being a little bit older, would be good in this tournament. He’s a little bit advanced. From a hockey point of view, with Mika playing in the (Swedish) elite league last year, they’re on even footing. They know it’s a competition and somebody will outplay the other guy, I assume.”

Da Costa, 22, who signed as a free agent out of Merrimack college last spring, scored two of his goals from the point on the power play, while Zibanejad, 18, the club’s No. 1 draft pick in June, picked up his own rebound to score the winner at 16:43 of the third.

“Everything went in (during) the second period, which is good, it gave me confidence,” said Da Costa. “I’m just here to play and to try to make the team. If I make it, that’s good, if I don’t, I’ll keep trying to do my best.”

OFF THE GLASS

Coach Kurt Kleinendorst liked what he saw from Zibanejad. “He’s just a big, strong young man. I love that goal that he scored. He got the puck on net right away and then he got his own rebound. There are no shortcuts in his game from what I’ve seen,” said Kleinendorst ... Former Senators D Norm Maciver, the team’s scoring leader in the 1992-93 season, is trying to fit a visit to Ottawa on Opening Night, Oct. 13, into his schedule. He’s now working as the Blackhawks director of player personnel ... Mark Stone set up Matt Puempel for a partial break in the first, but Johan Mattson made the pad stop. Puempel, drafted No. 24 overall in June, showed good speed getting to the net.

AROUND THE BOARDS

The Senators will have 60 players in main camp divided into three teams. Coach Paul MacLean said he expects Daniel Alfredsson (back), Milan Michalek (knee) and D Sergei Gonchar (post-concussion) to be fine. C Peter Regin “tweaked” his ankle playing soccer, but should be OK ... Former Ottawa D Chris Campoli, dealt to the Hawks last spring, is a UFA and is looking for work. He was let go by Chicago, which walked away from his arbitrated $2.5 million contract. “He’s still the No. 1 unrestricted free-agent defenceman available and we’re still confident (he’ll be signed),” said Campoli’s agent Rich Evans Sunday. “We’re just going to be patient.”

THIS N’ THAT

Corey Cowick scored his fourth goal of the tourney, short-handed at 12:24 of the first. Andre Petersson opened the scoring ... The Senators gave G Robin Lehner the day off so he wouldn’t play three games in four days. Unsigned G Matej Machovsky from Guelph allowed all five goals ... 67’s LW Shane Prince, playing on a line with Zibanejad and Petersson, had lots of chances and finished with two assists. “How many should he have had? He could have had a career (game) which is what you’re looking for, but you’re also looking for finish. I thought he played very well,” said Kleinendorst ... Ottawa wraps up the tourney Tuesday against Toronto at 7 p.m.


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