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Foligno itching to make return

by Rob Brodie / Ottawa Senators
Senators defenceman Chris Campoli is eager to return to action tonight after being sidelined since before the Olympic break with a sprained MCL (Getty Images).

Check out the NHL game notes for tonight's Ottawa-Toronto matchup.

Just in the nick of time, the Ottawa Senators are getting some key reinforcements to do battle with an old rival.

When the Senators hit the ice against the Toronto Maple Leafs tonight at Scotiabank Place (7:30 p.m., Rogers Sportsnet, Team 1200), they'll welcome forward Nick Foligno and defenceman Chris Campoli back into the lineup after prolonged absences.

With centre Mike Fisher doubtful for tonight because of a "nagging" upper body injury, Senators head coach Cory Clouston is grateful in particular for the return of Foligno, who's been sidelined since Feb. 1 with a broken right fibula.

In an effort to jumpstart an ailing offence, Foligno is being inserted onto a line alongside Jason Spezza and Milan Michalek. Captain Daniel Alfredsson will skate with Matt Cullen and Chris Kelly, while the Alex Kovalev-Peter Regin-Ryan Shannon trio has been reunited.

"We want to generate more offence," Clouston said following the Senators' pre-game skate earlier today. "We haven’t been able to score enough and we’re hoping some energy will come from that (alignment) as well."

If anything, Foligno will surely bring a welcome dose of enthusiasm to a team that has stumbled out of the Olympic break with a 1-4-1 record. He's been anxious for this moment since the night he went down with the injury.

"I'm really excited," said Foligno. "I’ve been looking forward to this day for six weeks and it’s just good to get back with the guys. It’s going to be a great game against Toronto and I just want to come in and do my job and hopefully help the team win.

"Toronto is a big rival and I always get up for those games, so it’s going to be a lot of fun."

"I'm really excited. I’ve been looking forward to this day for six weeks and it’s just good to get back with the guys. It’s going to be a great game against Toronto and I just want to come in and do my job and hopefully help the team win ... Toronto is a big rival and I always get up for those games, so it’s going to be a lot of fun." - Nick Foligno
Foligno was playing some of his best hockey of the season just before he was sidelined and Spezza, for one, knows his return can't do anything but help.

"We just want to see him back in the lineup," he said. "Nicky was playing really well and it's unfortunate what happened to him. He's a big part of our team."

And Foligno is hoping to make an instant impact tonight with his new linemates.

"I think I have the ability to create offensive chances," he said. "Playing with those two, it shouldn’t be hard. They’re great players and I’ve just got to keep my game simple and work hard and make sure I’m playing strong at both ends of the ice."

Campoli, too, is eager to get back into the fray.

"I just want to help the team," he said. "It’s tough when things aren’t going well and you’ve got to sit back and watch. I’m excited to be back and ready for tonight.

"I’m just going to play my game. I’m going to try to keep it simple and move the puck. All you want to do is come in and help the team win the game."

Around the boards

Brian Elliott (23-15-3) gets the start in goal tonight ... Forward Shean Donovan is the healthy scratch ... To make room for Campoli, defenceman Brian Lee has been re-assigned to the Binghamton Senators of the American Hockey League ... Blueliner Filip Kuba (lower body) remains out ... The Senators have dropped three straight to the Leafs, including a 2-1 overtime loss on Feb. 6 at Scotiabank Place … Ottawa's next victory will be the 600th in modern franchise history ... Fewer than 50 tickets remain for tonight's game.


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