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Fisher good to go against Leafs

by Rob Brodie / Ottawa Senators
Say this much about the Ottawa Senators. They're fast healers.

A mere 10 days after straining a ligament in his knee, Mike Fisher will suit up for the Senators when the face off against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday night at Scotiabank Place (7:30 p.m., Rogers Sportsnet East, Team 1200).

Fisher originally suffered the injury during the Senators' 2-1 shootout loss to the Rangers on Nov. 17 in New York. It was originally believed he'd be sidelined for at least two weeks, but instead Fisher will make his return after sitting out just two games.

Earlier this season, captain Daniel Alfredsson missed only one game after undergoing arthroscopic surgery to remove a bone chip from his right knee.

"I was hopeful on the weekend and then I was skating on Monday," Fisher said earlier today after participating in his second straight day of full practice with his teammates. "I've had a few good days and it's come along quite nicely. I'm definitely happy that I didn't miss more time."

Head coach Craig Hartsburg said Fisher is a player the Senators need in the lineup in what figures to be an emotional game against their provincial rivals.

"He has two good practices under his belt and it's good to get him back," said Hartsburg. "He was playing pretty well when he got hurt. Certainly, we look at him as a key piece on our team and he plays the game with lots of energy and speed, which we're going to need against Toronto."

Fisher watched the Senators ramp up their game in a big way last week, earning four of a possible six points. He'd like to help the Senators maintain that ascent in the games ahead.

"I just want to... contribute in little ways and try to help the team win some games," he said."It's a big game for us (on Thursday) and we've got to get rolling. So that's the main focus, trying to help out.

"I was hopeful on the weekend and then I was skating on Monday. I've had a few good days and it's come along quite nicely. I'm definitely happy that I didn't miss more time." - Mike Fisher
"The team's had some good games (lately), there's no question. We competed a little bit better and I thought we played really well. It's coming together. It's just a matter of keeping it consistent and slowly building on little things."

Said Hartsburg: "The key thing for us is to keep playing the way we have the last three games and don't go backwards. We've got to continue to take steps forward and see that type of game for 60 minutes. If we can do that for a long period of time, we should get some good results. But we don't want to go backwards."

Even though the Senators (7-9-4) and Leafs (7-9-5) aren't near the top of the standings in either the Eastern Conference or Northeast Division, it's still a rivalry game that figures to have both sides fired up and raring to go.

"Every time you play the Leafs, it's special," said Senators forward Antoine Vermette. "They have a different group (of players) now but from what I've seen so far, I think they're a very competitive young group. They've showed some character and some intensity, and usually it gets to the point where (we have) good games with them."

Around the boards

Forward Ryan Shannon (concussion) was awaiting clearance from a doctor later today before being declared ready for game action ... Centre Dean McAmmond sat out practice because of illness. "He's got a real sore throat," said Hartsburg. "We'll see how he feels tomorrow." ... Alex Auld (6-5-3) is back between the pipes against the Leafs. It'll be his seventh straight start in goal ... Fewer than 500 tickets remain for Thursday's game.

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