Stephane Da Costa is learning the old “cheaters never win” adage is applicable in the NHL.

After the 23-year-old centre and goalie Ben Bishop were named by coach Paul MacLean as the only “bright spots” in Saturday’s 1-0 loss to the Jets, Da Costa admitted he has a better handle on what it takes to succeed at this level than he did in the 26 games he previously played.

“I’m trying to be honest,” said Da Costa, who had three goals and two assists in 22 games with the 2011-12 Senators. “I’m trying to be more honest than what I was last year.

“I’m trying to bring energy, and I’m trying to skate a lot more. And I think it’s been good so far.”

Part of being “honest” is playing the two-way game preached by coaches. Offensive-minded players tend to cheat by breaking for scoring chances, therefore neglecting defensive or away-from-the-puck duties.

“When we play honest, that’s when the chances are coming more, I think,” said Da Costa. “I tried to cheat a little too much last year because I felt I wasn’t producing as much as I wanted to. And it just didn’t work for me. So I’m trying to be honest, and trying to play just how I can.”

With no points in three games since his recall from Binghamton, Da Costa realizes the temptation to cheat might rise once again. But he vows not to bite.

“I’m just going to try to keep what I’m doing, stick to what I’ve been doing,” he said.