|Senators forward Shean Donovan showed his toughness by playing most of Thursday's game against the Edmonton Oilers with a broken nose (Photo by Scott Audette/NHLI via Getty Images).
Making a list of the Ottawa Senators' true tough guys? Make sure you leave plenty of room to include Shean Donovan.
Teammates and coaches were still marvelling today about the gutsy effort Donovan turned in during Thursday's 4-2 victory over the Edmonton Oilers at Scotiabank Place, which left the Senators forward with a broken nose and bruising under the eyes.
"Not pretty, that's for sure," Donovan said with a grin that belied the deep red, swelled nose that sat about it.
In a short stretch of the first period, the veteran winger was crunched face first into the boards by the Oilers' Zack Stortini. After getting his nose reset by team physician Dr. Don Chow, Donovan went back out on the ice and darned if it didn't happen again courtesy of another huge hit, this one by Ladislav Smid.
Amazingly, Donovan not only finished the game, he can't wait to get back at it again on Saturday night, when the Buffalo Sabres visit Scotiabank Place (7 p.m., CBC, Team 1200).
"Doc Chow just pushed it back into place and made it look a lot prettier than it did before, believe it or not," said Donovan. "You get really psyched up to play the game and you just want to play. It's been (broken) a few different times. I haven't done it in awhile, actually, but it's happened a few times.
"When something like that happens, you get some adrenalin going. It was just fun to be out there and it's always fun to be a part of the big win at the end."
He did plenty to fire up his teammates, too.
"Those things make a big difference. He inspired the bench," said Senators head coach Cory Clouston. "It's not easy to come back from that. Just the fact he wanted to be out there shows a lot of his character.
"For him to come back and play, it says a lot about his mental toughness, his character and that he wants to be a part of this. I think that's pretty special."
As impressed as they were, some of Donovan's teammates couldn't pass on a little bit of good-natured ribbing. Even the winger himself joined in the fun, saying "my modelling career is over, but it doesn't matter. It hadn't really started in the first place."
"You come back (to the game) and the boys start ripping on you right away," he added. "When I got back to the bench, Spezz told everybody to slide left to make room for my nose."
That being said, the Senators couldn't help but be impressed by Donovan's grit and determination.
"I was surprised to see him back and then the first shift (after his return), he took another one and kept going," said centre Mike Fisher. "His nose was pretty much at his ears but he's a warrior, for sure."
"You get really psyched up to play the game and you just want to play. It's been (broken) a few different times. I haven't done it in awhile, actually, but it's happened a few times. When something like that happens, you get some adrenalin going. It was just fun to be out there and it's always fun to be a part of the big win at the end." - Shean Donovan
That's the kind of mentality the Senators hope to show collectively over the final 19 games of their season. At 24-29-10, they're not mathematically eliminated from the playoff chase just yet but the chances of extending their post-season run to 12 years are extremely slim. Nobody, however, is thinking about just playing out the string.
"We've just got to relax and play," said Fisher. "At certain points in the season, we were feeling pressure and sometimes we didn't respond to that very well. Now we've just got to play.
"Sometimes, when you're a little bit more relaxed, good things happen and we seem to have been playing a little bit better lately. We've just got to keep that going and not let up at all. There are different guys fighting for jobs and there's lots of things to play for. We don't have any quit in us, that's for sure."
Added centre Jason Spezza
: "As much as we're out of the playoff hunt, we've got a lot to play for, I think, to prove that we want to keep our team together going into next year." Around the boards
Forward Chris Neil
(lacerated calf) continues to show improvement and might join his teammates for the pre-game skate on Saturday. "We'll make sure tomorrow morning that he hasn't taken a step back after being pushed a little harder today," said Clouston. "If everything is fine, he'll skate with us tomorrow." ... Fewer than 2,000 tickets remain for the game against the Sabres, while 2,500 are left for each of the final two dates on this homestand: Monday against the Toronto Maple Leafs (7:30 p.m., Rogers Sportsnet, Team 1200) and Saturday vs. the Tampa Bay Lightining (7 p.m., TSN, Team 1200).