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Senators' Michalek done for season

by Adam Kimelman
PITTSBURGH -- Ottawa Senators forward Milan Michalek will miss the rest of the season after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee during Game 1 of the Senators' Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

"Milan Michalek tore his ACL completely (Wednesday) night,"  Senators General Manager Bryan Murray said. "He will require surgery and obviously will be out until training camp at least next year."

Murray said he believes the injury occurred in the second period, when Michalek and teammate Mike Fisher collided with a Penguins defenseman along the boards in the Pittsburgh end. Murray said Michalek returned to the bench limping after the hit, and a post-game examination revealed the severity of the injury.

Michalek had 22 goals and 34 points in 66 games this season. He was third on team in goals and power-play goals (8).

It's the second time in a week the Senators have lost a player to a serious knee injury. Top forward Alexei Kovalev also is out for the postseason after tearing the ACL in his left knee April 8 against Tampa Bay.

"Obviously you would love to stay healthy but we're not,"  Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson said. "We'll keep playing the same way. We're not going to change anything. Everybody is going to pull as hard as they can no mater what happens."

Michalek had been playing on a partially torn ACL since March 18, when he banged his knee against a goalpost in Atlanta. He missed nine games, but was able to return April 8 for the final two games of the regular season.

"At that point we knew he had issues and a problem," Murray said of the injury in Atlanta. "We asked him if he wanted to continue to try and play. We talked to the doctors, we talked to his agent, we talked to Milan, and he definitely wanted to give it a go. He unfortunately lasted just the first game of the playoffs."

Nick Foligno took Michalek's place on a line with Mike Fisher and Matt Cullen during Thursday's practice, and it's likely Ryan Shannon will play his first Stanley Cup Playoff game Friday in Game 2 of the series (7 p.m. ET, Versus, CBC).

Shannon had 5 goals and 16 points in 66 games, but hasn't played since April 6.

"I just have to play my game," he told "Move my feet, make sure my speed is up and I'm anticipating the puck well. I'm a speed player. If my speed is there, my intensity is there, everything else will fall into place. … I've been in and out of the lineup for a good part of the season, so I feel comfortable being out for a few games and stepping in. … If I'm called on to play top minutes, that's fine. If I'm called on to play five, six, seven minutes, that's fine, too."

Shuffling players in and out of the lineup has been nothing new for the Senators this season. The players said they have enough faith in the plan put into place by coach Cory Clouston that regardless of who's in the lineup, they'll know their role.

"It's a tough break, but once again we move on," said Alfredsson. "We've got people that can step in and fill different roles. Nothing changes for us."
Murray tried to find the silver lining in the losses of Michalek, Kovalev and defenseman Filip Kuba, who will miss at least the first round following back surgery, saying it gives the club's younger players another opportunity.

"We had seven out at one time," Murray said of the laundry list of regular-season maladies. "The good thing about it is it gave a lot of younger players, depth players, at the start of the year the opportunity to play games. Peter Regin went from a fourth-line player to a first line player because he got put into situations where in a normal year that might not have happened. Now we see Zack Smith will have to come in and be a priority player for us going forward. There are good and bad to it. You see the depth of the organization."

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