OTTAWA - For a change, it appears the Ottawa Senators might finally have some luck on their side when it comes to injuries.
Marc Methot is expected to return to the lineup after missing only one game and there is a good chance fellow defenceman Sergei Gonchar will be able to play Saturday afternoon when Ottawa hosts the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Methot suffered a knee injury in Tuesday?s game against the New York Islanders, while Gonchar left Thursday's game against Boston in the third period due to an undisclosed injury.
Methot, who took part in Friday's practice, says he feels comfortable and that the injury was less serious than originally believed.
"I thought it was a lot worse than it probably was," said Methot. "At the time it didn?t feel great, but it didn?t get much worse overnight which was nice, the swelling kind of subsided and it turns out it wasn?t anything too major.
"I think I needed a little time just to recover a bit. I certainly felt a lot stronger on the ice (Friday) so that was good news."
Gonchar didn?t take part in practice, but Senators coach Paul MacLean said he could be ready to play against the Bolts.
"He had improvement today so we???re positive for (Saturday),??? said MacLean. "He???ll be a warm-up or game time decision is the best way to say it right now, but it looks like he???ll be ready to go.???
Gonchar has been the Senators best defencemen of late with points in his last nine games. He scored the winning goal in the final minute Tuesday in Long Island.
After so many serious injuries this season, including goalie Craig Anderson, defenceman Erik Karlsson and forward Jason Spezza, MacLean couldn???t help but breathe a sigh of relief over the fact the team will not be without two of its best defencemen for an extended period of time.
"It would be nice to see a change (when it comes to injuries),??? he said. "It looks that way which is good. They???re both important players for us and we need them to play if they can."
In an effort to ensure his players make the most of what little down time they???ll have in the next few days MacLean told everyone to get off the ice after a brief 25-minute practice. The Senators play two games in the next three days.
"For the most part we didn???t want them using up too much energy on stupid pet tricks and chasing the puck around when we have a game at 2 p.m. Saturday," said MacLean. "We need the energy for the game.
"If we let them they???ll stay out there all day long. Some of them don???t need to be out there too long with the games that they???re playing in. Sometimes they don???t manage themselves like they should.???
Notes: Robin Lehner will get the start against the Lightning Saturday. ... The Senators have only won four of nine afternoon games this season. ... Ben Bishop said he was thoroughly impressed at seeing Martin Brodeur pick up a goal against the Carolina Hurricanes Thursday night. "I???ve always wanted to score a goal. It???s pretty cool to score one and that???s his third! Three goals that???s pretty good.???