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Injury to Ryan dampens joy of victory for Senators

Forward out one month after breaking index finger on right hand during win against Maple Leafs

by Mike Zeisberger @zeisberger / Staff Writer

OTTAWA -- In the corridor behind the Ottawa Senators' bench, forward Bobby Ryan was hunched over in excruciating discomfort. A quick glimpse of his face showed a mix of frustration, exasperation and raw pain.

It was easy to understand why.

Ryan had just been hit in the right hand by a slap shot from Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Ron Hainsey early in the third period of the Senators' 6-3 victory at Canadian Tire Centre on Saturday. The moment puck hit flesh, Ryan knew something was very wrong.

About 45 minutes later, after the Senators had sealed their win, Ottawa coach Guy Boucher delivered the news: Ryan, 30, will be out at least a month with a fractured index finger on his right hand.

"I feel for him," Boucher said, his voice cracking with emotion. "This man has made some giant leaps, both on and off the ice, personally, the way he presented himself this year, the way he played.

"I find it sad."

Tweet from @Senators: #Sens Head Coach Guy Boucher speaks to media following tonight���s 6-3 win over the Leafs.

Ryan has had six bone fractures in his hands during the past four seasons. The repeated injuries caused him to test new gloves in March, ones that offered more protection while still providing the flexibility he needs to grip his stick.

"I'll try everything," Ryan said at the time. "It's been four years in a row now I've had to play with [hand injuries], and it's not fun.

"I'd like to be able to do something after hockey and not have arthritic fingers. It's just incredible. They're all bad-luck injuries. I've got one [finger] I still haven't got all the feeling back in, from all the freezing."

Seven months later, Ryan is dealing with a similar injury.

Ryan's pain in recent years goes far beyond his hands. In an interview with "Hockey Night In Canada" on Oct. 14, he opened up about the heartache he still endures from the loss of his mother to liver cancer in the summer of 2016.

"We struggled through all the financial burdens especially living in California, trying to play hockey in California," Ryan said. "My mom took on a lot. She worked at the rink in the mornings so I could skate for free and at the airlines at night so I could fly for free and on standby.

"Every two weeks we kind of carved out an afternoon and went for the (California Pizza Kitchen) lunch special, the Caesar salad and half a pizza or whatever it was, and that was our time to put all that aside. That was what we waited for every two weeks."

It's a memory that has lingered ever since his mom passed away.

"Every time I drive by (a California Pizza Kitchen) it's hard not to get emotional," Ryan said. "It's one of those things that will continue to resonate with me for the rest of my life."

For Boucher, Ryan's injury was the one glaring negative on a night of positives. For two periods, his Senators had blanked the Maple Leafs, who came into the game leading the NHL in goals with 34.

But the third period began on a sour note for the Senators. With Ryan being attended to in the trainer's room, Ottawa's lead was whittled to 3-2 on goals by James van Riemsdyk and Auston Matthews.

With thousands of blue and white-clad visiting fans busting out in chants of "Go Leafs Go," Boucher quickly called his timeout. It proved to be a shrewd move. Seven seconds after Matthews scored, Mark Stone gobbled up a bad pass by Maple Leafs defenseman Nikita Zaitsev and beat Frederik Andersen to make it 4-2.

It was a lead the Senators would not relinquish.

"The bottom line is, the game could have turned in our favor in the third period," Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock said. "We got our competitive level up, but they were better than us. They deserved to win.

"They competed harder than we did. We turned the puck over, over and over again."

Boucher praised his players afterward for their resilience down the stretch. For most of his 20-minute meeting with the media, he wore a big smile.

Then the subject of Ryan came up again. And the smile disappeared.

"He's been through so much," Boucher said. "Like I said, I'm just sad for him."

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