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Donovan ready to answer call

by Rob Brodie / Ottawa Senators
He is one of those “energy guys” who spends most of his nights focused on keeping the opposition’s top guns at bay.

No wonder, then, that Shean Donovan can’t help grinning when he’s reminded he owns the Ottawa Senators’ first goal of the 2008-09 season. Donovan wired a shot past Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury on Saturday night in Stockholm to open Ottawa's scoring in the first period.

“That ended up being good,” he said Wednesday after an off-ice workout at Scotiabank Place. “It helped out and whenever you can contribute, it’s fun.”

The low-key response typifies the kind of team-first attitude that head coach Craig Hartsburg has tried to foster among his troops since the opening day of training camp. He sees Donovan as someone who is an ideal fit on the Senators’ fourth line.

“(Donovan) is an experienced guy that competes hard, brings speed and energy,” said Hartsburg. “On that fourth line, that’s what you need.”

There was plenty of that during the Stanley Cup playoffs last spring, when Donovan was one of the team’s top forwards in the first round against the Penguins. His performance prompted general manager Bryan Murray to re-sign the veteran forward to a two-year contract.
Donovan knows exactly what the team expects from him in return.

“They want us to play on a fourth line here that checks with speed and some grit and hit and finish,” he said. “Just make it so you tire out whatever line other teams put out (against you). The coach wants to have enough trust in us so that they can throw us out against anybody and tire them out.”

With two extra bodies on hand in Sweden for their season-opening weekend against the Penguins, the Senators had several candidates to fill those roles. Donovan said it was a matter of being ready to answer the call if and when it came.

“You want to play every night, so you work hard to get in the lineup and play,” he said. “It’s a team here and it’s about winning – you just try to help out and do whatever you can. You’ve just got to be ready and whenever you get your chance, you go out there and do as well as you can.

“You want to be in there for the first game and you want to be in there for all of them. All 82 is kind of the goal.”

Fisher ‘hopeful’ he’ll face Red Wings

Centre Mike Fisher (groin) skated on his own Wednesday morning at the Bell Sensplex but said it’s still too soon to declare himself ready to face the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday at Scotiabank Place (7 p.m., CBC, Team 1200).

“I’m hopeful. We’ll see how it goes the next few days,” he said. “It’s still not up to going really hard but I’m just ramping it up a little every day and trying to strengthen it as much as possible so it doesn’t happen again.

“It’s a big game (Saturday) and I want to play. If I feel like I’m ready to play, I will.… It’s disappointing but I can’t control it. You can’t sit here and hang your head about it. The only thing I can control is to work as hard as I can to get back. I’ve been through this before and it could be a lot worse. I’ll be back soon and ready to go.”

Around the boards

When Alex Auld backstopped the Sens to a 3-1 victory over the Penguins on Sunday, he became only the third goaltender in National Hockey League history to win his debut start with five different teams. The others: Lorne Chabot and Phil Myre, a former Senators goaltending coach … Fewer than 750 tickets remain for Saturday’s home-opener against the Wings.

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