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Alfredsson 'feeling okay,' will be game-time decision

by Rob Brodie / Ottawa Senators
Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson joined his teammates for the morning skate, but said later he'll be a game-time decision for tonight's Game 3 against the New York Rangers (Photo by Matthew Healy/OSHC).

And so the waiting game continues for Daniel Alfredsson.

The Ottawa Senators captain joined his teammates for the pre-game skate this morning in advance of Game 3 of the Eastern Conference quarter-final against the New York Rangers at Scotiabank Place (7 p.m., CBC, Team 1200). But Alfredsson said afterward it will be a game-time decision whether he plays tonight.

"We'll see," Alfredsson, who said he was "feeling okay" this morning, told a throng of reporters in the Senators dressing room. "We'll decide at game time if I'm playing tonight."

However, the 39-year-native of Goteborg, Sweden, admitted he's felt progressively better since Saturday night, when a elbow to the head by Rangers forward Carl Hagelin midway through the second period of Game 2 sidelined him for the night. Alfredsson confirmed this morning he suffered a concussion on the play, with Hagelin being suspended for three games by the National Hockey League for the infraction.

Senators head coach Paul MacLean said later that Alfredsson has passed a baseline test, a necessity to return to game action according to the NHL's protocol regarding head injuries.

"Yesterday was better than Saturday night," said Alfredsson, who missed five games earlier this season after suffering a concussion during an Oct. 29 game in New York. "I did a bike ride yesterday and felt pretty good throughout the day (and) was active at home with the kids. Then I felt pretty good this morning, so the next step was to skate this morning and see how I feel after.

"Every situation is different. You just take it as it comes. It is what it is. You can't force something like this and you feel what you feel. I find you just go with the flow and relax. If it's good, it's good, if it's not, it's not. You can't do anything about it. The less stress you put on yourself, the more you help yourself."

The Senators captain said he holds no ill will against Hagelin, a fellow Swede and a player he drafted for his team during the 2012 All-Star Weekend in Ottawa. Hagelin told New York media on Sunday that he'd texted an apology to Alfredsson and expressed regret for his actions.

"It''s hard," said Alfredsson. "Carl is not that kind of player but with the intensity and everything that goes on in a playoff game, he gets an elbow up where I think that maybe normally, he wouldn't have if it's not a playoff game ... I'm not a guy that's going to hold a grudge. Things happen, it's playoff hockey and if it needs to be disciplined, the league will take care of that and move on."

Without their captain, the Senators rallied Saturday for a 3-2 overtime triumph that squared the best-of-seven series at 1-1. Now the task is to ratchet up the intensity further in tonight's pivotal Game 3.

"Coming back the way we did a couple of times and winning in overtime shows a lot of character," said Alfredsson. "I thought throughout the game, we did a good job of improving from Game 1. The same goes for tonight in Game 3. It's not a time to rest on what you've done. It's about prove yourself again and play to win."

Clearly, the Senators would rather do that with their undisputed leader in the lineup.

"Just having (Alfredsson) in the lineup makes us a better team," said centre Jason Spezza. "He's one of our best players and controls play out there. He's a veteran guy that can hang onto the puck, control shifts and take over games. It's encouraging to see him out there and hopefully, he feels good tonight."

Added forward Jesse Winchester: "He's our guy. He's our leader and he's a guy that calms us when we're nervous. He just leads by example every day, so we need him. When he's ready, we'll be happy."

Much as the Senators are buoyed by the possibility of Alfredsson's return, forward Nick Foligno said it's important the team is also prepared to hit the ice without him.

"If he's not (in), we have to make sure we're ready to go," said Foligno. "The guys need to step up, just the way we did the last game. It will be a big boost if he's out there but if not, we have to make sure we go about our business the way we did the last game."

Added defenceman Erik Karlsson: "We want to play with the same intensity we did the last game, and (the Rangers) want to do the same. So it should be a pretty good game, with lots of physicality out there. That's the way a playoff game should be."

Around the boards

Winchester skated with Spezza and Milan Michalek on the Senators' top line during the morning skate and MacLean expects to start Game 3 that way. "He plays with speed," MacLean said of Winchester. "He can get in on the forecheck and use his speed to his advantage, and he handles the puck fine. That's what we like." ... With Matt Carkner suspended for tonight's game, Matt Gilroy draws back into the Senators lineup on the blue line. No other lineup changes are anticipated at this time ... Despite being a No. 8 seed, MacLean said the Senators didn't doubt they could compete with the Blueshirts, the Eastern Conference's top team during the regular season. "We had belief in ourselves," said MacLean. "We had confidence that we were a good team and we've played well all season long. I don't think we had any doubts. We still believe in ourselves a lot."

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