SNAPSHOTS: Senators’ Tim Stuetzle returns from knee injury to play against Winnipeg Jets

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Help arrived for the Ottawa Senators on Sunday night.

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After missing two games with a knee injury suffered on a dirty hit from Montreal Canadiens’ winger Nick Suzuki on Tuesday at the Bell Centre, center Tim Stuetzle returned against the Winnipeg Jets Sunday at home.

Though he was a game-time decision, Stuetzle skated in the morning and made his return. The Senators were just taking precautions by waiting until after warmup to confirm he was playing.

“He said really he felt really good,” coach DJ Smith. before the game.” If he’s not 100% he won’t play.”

But Stuetzle moved to his usual role on the second line. The club has struggled offensively without him and was coming off a 5-1 loss to the New York Rangers Saturday night at Madison Square Garden.

The power play has looked out of sync and it wasn’t very good at all against the Rangers.

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‘You could see the power plays drastic decline with him and Drake (Batherson) being out,” Smith said. “Just five-on-five, he’s become a top-end player for us, a big time possession and without him it’s obvious.”

The teams that advance to the playoffs will be determined by winning percentage. The top six teams make the playoffs and Smith understands the need for Kastelic to play a big role in Belleville down the stretch.

“Selfishly I would love to have him,” Smith said Sunday. “He’s brought an element to us, he works every single shift and he deserves to be in the lineup.

“At the same time, he’s been in Belleville all year, they’re fighting tooth and nail for a playoff spot and he’s a big part of that team. They’ve got five games in seven days and they need him. If we’re in a different spot, scratching and clawing for every point, I’m pretty sure Kastelic would be in the lineup.

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“That’s not the scenario and this is about development for him. He’s going to go down there and play a big role for them.”

Kastelic will be a full-time NHL player down the road and maybe even as early as next season. He played 13 minutes and 47 seconds against the Rangers, but his 11-for-16 performance in the faceoff circle was even more impressive.

He spends a lot of time working on his performance in the dot.

“It’s just a lot of repetitions and it’s just something I’m comfortable with,” Kastelic said. “In junior, they stressed that a lot, my coaches and even my grandpa (former NHLer Pat Stapleton).

“All the influential people around me said to me that you can make a living taking faceoffs. It’s something I’m always taking pride in and something I’m always working at.”

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Belleville will play host the Laval Rocket in a rescheduled game Monday at the CAA Arena at 7 pm


Watson opened the scoring Saturday but that hasn’t always been the best-case scenario for the Senators. Ottawa went into Sunday’s visit against Winnipeg with an 18-13-2 record when scoring first. Those 13 losses were the second-most in regulation after opening the scoring behind the New Jersey Devils, who have 16 losses … Batherson missed his third straight with a non-COVID related illness. He will make the road trip to Detroit with the Senators on Monday and is expected to suit up Tuesday … Goaltender Matt Murray, sidelined with a head and neck injury, has been skating and taking shots but there’s no update. It’s not known if he’ll play before the end of the season. Murray missed his 15th straight game Sunday… RedBlacks’ coach Paul LaPolice, who spent a lot of his career in Winnipeg, and his family de él were down by the glass for warmup Sunday night… D Michael Del Zotto was a late scratch and replaced Victor Put.

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Center Viktor Lodin, who wrapped up his season in Sweden last weekend, made his AHL debut with Belleville Saturday in the club’s 6-2 loss to the Rochester Amerks at home.

Lodin, 22, a fourth-round pick in the 2019 NHL draft, had 12 goals and 27 points in 44 games with Timra IK this season.

“I liked his game. He has vision and hockey IQ, and you can tell he’s really going to help our power play,” coach Troy Mann told Belleville broadcaster David Foot. “From a physical standpoint, I thought he battled hard in the corners and was trying to make plays on the walls.

“He’s got some good size, so for his first game it was good and he’s a guy who can certainly help us over the next nine games.”

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