|Senators forward Nikita Filatov avoided serious injury despite taking a skate to the face during Tuesday's victory over the Jets in Winnipeg. He escaped with only a minor fracture and feels he'll be able to play against the Dallas Stars on Thursday night (Francois Laplante/Freestyle Photography/OSHC).
Nikita Filatov doesn't need to be told about his remarkable good fortune.
It is in the video and the photos guaranteed to make anyone who hasn't seen it yet cringe. It was in the words of an Ottawa Senators teammate, who witnessed the scary incident and let the young Russian forward know just how close he came to suffering a devastating injury.
Amazingly, as he spoke earlier today in Dallas, the 21-year-old Filatov suggested he was "pretty much sure" he'd be available to play on Thursday night, when the Senators tangle with the Stars at American Airlines Center (8:30 p.m., Sportsnet Sens, Team 1200) in the second stop of a three-game road trip that concludes Saturday in Washington.
But the mishap involving Filatov on Tuesday night, when the Senators rallied for a 5-4 victory over the Winnipeg Jets at the MTS Centre, was still front and centre among the topics of discussion today after the team went through an off-ice workout in Dallas. It happened during the first period, when Jets forward Eric Fehr lost his balance in front of Filatov and, as he was tumbling to the ice, the back of his skate boot clipped the Ottawa forward squarely in the face.
While it was originally suspected that Filatov had suffered a broken nose, that didn't turn out to be the case — he told Rogers Sportsnet an X-ray showed a small fracture — and he sat out the rest of the game as a precaution because of headaches and dizziness. But even the original diagnosis wasn't anywhere near as severe as it could have been, as Ottawa defenceman Sergei Gonchar suggested to him afterward.
"Gonch said (Fehr's skate) blade was close to my face, so right now I feel lucky about it," said Filatov, who took a long pause at one point as he described the incident. "We thought it might be a concussion because I was a little dizzy from the shot. I didn't feel like I could play."
Senators head coach Paul MacLean knows how lucky Filatov should feel.
"It could have been real ugly and it was at the same time," he said. "It's good that he's got his faculties about him and everything's going good for him today. We'll see how he feels tomorrow."
If today is any indication, it's another good sign for Filatov, who said his headachle "slowly started to go away" as Tuesday night progessed.
"I felt way better (when I woke up today)," he said. "This morning, after a sleep and breakfast, I started to feel really good ... I think it's good news."
The news wasn't as good concerning defenceman Filip Kuba, who also departed the game against the Jets in the first period with a lower-body injury. MacLean isn't overly hopeful the Czech blueliner will be good to go against the Stars, meaning Brian Lee would likely draw back into the lineup.
"Right now, Filip would be doubtful (for Thursday)," said MacLean. "We'll see how the day goes and how tomorrow goes but at this point, he's doubtful."
The timing of the injury is unfortunate for the veteran Kuba, who's been one of the Senators' steadiest blueliners in recent games.
"He's been playing real well and playing some significant minutes for us," said MacLean. "He played the power play, he played the penalty kill ... that would certainly be something we have to shore up (if Kuba is unavailable)."
Around the boards
It's possible forward Chris Neil, who's been sidelined for eight games with a sprained ankle, could make his return to game action Thursday in Dallas, though MacLean said the Senators are remaining cautious about his recovery. "(Neil's) progress has been real good but with the sprain he has, youn want to be real careful and you want to err on the side of caution for as long as you possibly can to make sure there isn't a relapse," said MacLean. "But he's ready to go if we need him, for sure." ... In the teams' last meeting in the Lone Star State, the Stars edged the Senators 5-4 on March 20, 2010, despite a hat trick performance by Ottawa's Jason Spezza ... After Saturday's game in Washington, the Senators' schedule turns much friendlier, with three of four games at home next week starting with a visit by Steven Stamkos and the Tampa Bay Lightning on Monday night (7:30 p.m., Sportsnet East, Team 1200).