Senators notebook: Always be closing, Da Costa sent down

The Ottawa Senators would like to stop making it so hard on themselves. So would their fans.

Senators notebook: Always be closing, Da Costa sent down
Stephane Da Costa (R) of the Ottawa Senators listens as assistant coach Dave Cameron (L) talks during practice at Canadian Tire Centre, on October 01, 2013, in Ottawa, Ont. (Jana Chytilova / Ottawa Citizen)

The Ottawa Senators would like to stop making it so hard on themselves. So would their fans.

Thursday’s 5-2 victory over the New Jersey Devils should have been a lot easier than it was, considering the Senators led 3-0 after Zack Smith’s second-period goal.

But a couple of bad penalties led to a Travis Zajac’s five-on-three goal to start the third, and then Steve Bernier made it 3-2 halfway through the period.

So game on. Gulp.

Many editions of past Senators would clamp on tight to a lead and not let go.

But for this team, it’s part of a learning process, said captain Jason Spezza.

“Good teams have to learn how to play with a lead and learn how to close things out,” he said. “You don’t want to be in a mad dash to hold onto a lead every time you get one, but I think that’s part of the learning curve for this team.

“We have some different bodies, some different personnel. But that’s a quality of good hockey teams: when you get a lead, you finish it out.

“We’ve only had a couple, but hopefully we learn.

DA COSTA OFF TO BINGO

Stephane Da Costa cleared waivers on Friday at noon and was sent to Binghamton to join the American Hockey League Senators.

The Senators called up Derek Grant as his replacement Friday afternoon.

Da Costa had an excellent training camp to make the NHL team, but just couldn’t keep it going in the regular season.

He didn’t have a point in four games.

“I think he did enough to make the team coming out of camp, but it was hard to get him into the lineup so he could be a player,” said coach Paul MacLean. “He’s still a young player, and to play consistently, (being) in and out of the lineup, I don’t think is not good for him, when he can go to (Binghamton) and he can play 15 to 20 minutes and continue to work at his game.

“He’s made some great strides in the organization and we want him to continue to do that,” he said. “We just didn’t think that going forward he was going to get the opportunity to play enough.”

There are a number of players having good starts in Binghamton and the policy is to take whoever is playing best, said MacLean.

That player, it turned out, was the 6-3, 206-pound Grant, who has two goals in three games so far this season.

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