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Foligno finding his groove

by Rob Brodie / Ottawa Senators
Senators forward Nick Foligno has responded strongly from his benching by head coach Cory Clouston last Saturday in Phoenix (Photo by Andre Ringuette/NHLI via Getty Images).

Redemption has rarely felt so good to Nick Foligno.

Less than a week after being banished to the press box, the Ottawa Senators forward showed just how much he'd taken head coach Cory Clouston's stinging actions to heart. In the nick of time, Foligno's hard-earned goal broke up a tense scoreless duel on Thursday night and fuelled the Senators' huge 2-0 road victory over the Philadelphia Flyers.

The elation he showed was about a 180-degree turn in fortunes for Foligno, who had been made a healthy scratch last Saturday against the Phoenix Coyotes. That hadn't happened to the third-year Senators forward since Feb. 1 in what turned out to be Craig Hartsburg's final game behind the bench before Clouston took the reins the following day.

"It’s been a little bit of a rollercoaster," Foligno said earlier today in describing his range of emotions over the past week. "I wasn’t happy when I was scratched. I was disappointed and a little embarrassed. I said I’d use that in a good way when a got my chance – luckily, it was the next game – and I tried to come out and play a lot harder and a lot better.

"Last night, I was able to get that goal and that’s what I wanted to do. I wanted to respond the right way and I think I’m starting to do that. There are things I need to do a little bit better and it’s part of being a young hockey player. But I feel I’m starting to get better."

Clouston also had to like the way the game-winning goal came. Foligno drove down the left wing, then followed up his own shot and whacked the rebound past Flyers goaltender Bryan Boucher. With Senators netminder Brian Elliott pitching his second career shutout, it was more than enough offence on this night, though Jesse Winchester later added insurance with an empty-net goal.

"He’s definitely moving in the right direction," Clouston said of Foligno's improved play. "There are areas in which he has to be better, but he’s no different than anybody else. I thought it was a good game for him. He was moving his feet more and did a great job driving the net and even being hungry on the rebound."

"It’s been a little bit of a rollercoaster. I wasn’t happy when I was scratched. I was disappointed and a little embarrassed. I said I’d use that in a good way when a got my chance. Last night, I was able to get that goal and that’s what I wanted to do. I wanted to respond the right way and I think I’m starting to do that." - Nick Foligno
Elliott, who had a few rough outings during the Senators' just-completed western road trip, also had to like what transpired against the Flyers. He turned aside all 23 shots he faced and his teammates blocked another 25.

"I saw the shot total after the game and it seemed like a lot more, just because (the Flyers) were buzzing around the whole time," said Elliott. "But they didn’t get that many shots through, so it definitely helps out."

Elliott also knows the shutout will be quickly forgotten if he doesn't bring his best game to Scotiabank Place on Saturday night, when the Senators face off against the Carolina Hurricanes (7 p.m., CBC, Team 1200).

"No one really cares about a shutout if you let a couple of goals in the next night," said Elliott, who has made 10 straight starts while Pascal Leclaire waits for his fractured cheekbone to mend. "It’s something that I want to keep going and hopefully, the guys in the locker room will keep up their strong play in front of me."

Around the boards

The Hurricanes bring a National Hockey League-worst 1-11-3 road record into Saturday's game, but the win came earlier this week against the Stanley Cup-champion Pittsburgh Penguins. "We can’t take them lightly, that’s for sure," said Clouston. "Any team in this league, it doesn’t matter where you are in the standings, you’re capable of beating anybody." ... Defenceman Alex Picard (upper body) might be ready to return to action against the 'Canes. "He'll be real close to being able to play tomorrow," said Clouston ... Fewer than 4,000 tickets remain for Saturday's matchup with the Hurricanes, which is also a  Metro Family Game.

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