While his return to the ice played a big part in a 7-2 win over the Phoenix Coyotes Tuesday night, Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson knows things still won't come easy for his team.
"It's just one game but it could be a step in the right direction," he said of the victory at home after the Senators dropped three of four road contests before returning to Ottawa.
Alfredsson scored two goals and four points in the win over Phoenix. He may have some company returning to the active list, too. While Jason Spezza continues to recover from a pulled left chest muscle, it looks as though Brandon Bochenski will return to action Thursday night when the Senators host the San Jose Sharks.
"I've been cleared by doctors, and it's up to the coaches to bring me back. It's tough sitting out, mentally taxing."
Coach Bryan Murray said Bochenski will likely dress against the Sharks.
"Brandon told me he's ready to go and he will probably go in a spot with Vermette."
And what about Spezza's lingering injury?
"I'm frustrated, I'm sure Jason is, too. He brings a nice dimension to the club when he plays. This was supposed to just be a couple of days and it has dragged on. Jason is a good compliment to Heatley for example. He sets the table for him."
Spezza remains patient, but anxious.
"Whatever game is next, that's the game we're aiming for. I'm making progress."
Martin Havlat continues to rehab his separated shoulder but the injuries don't stop there.
Christoph Schubert may be unavailable on Thursday because of a hamstring injury suffered against Phoenix.
"We'll see how it goes tomorrow," he said after a Wednesday morning practice that he did not participate in. (Whether I can play or not) I don't want to say yes or no right now."
In the meantime, the players were glad to see their captain back in the fold.
"He leads by example," said Chris Neil, who scored his career high 12th goal of the season against the Coyotes. "He may not say as much as other people, but on the ice, when you play with a guy like that, he makes you a better player."
Murray said Dominik Hasek will start in goal against San Jose. Hasek will be looking for his 22nd victory of the season.