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The Sens will get a veteran boost on Thursday night when Sergei Gonchar returns to the lineup after missing a couple of games due to the flu. The 38 year old Russian defenceman had a similar ailment to that of captain Daniel Alfredsson, only Gonchar says was a bit worse than what Alfredsson had.
Gonchar did make a brief return to the lineup last weekend against Carolina but ultimately wasn't healthy enough to play more than one night. On Tuesday night he took the pregame warmups with the team but didn't feel up to the task against Buffalo.
He'll have a new partner to the side of him tonight as Mike Lundin will make his Sens debut
next to Gonchar on a pairing. The two have had minimal time playing alongside one another. Ideally for the Sens some in-game action will force some chemistry between the two.
"He was skating the last couple of days, and I wasn't skating so I don't know much. I'll have to learn on the fly," said Gonchar. "He's a good skater, I've seen him around. I think we'll have to communicate a lot in the beginning. I'm sure it'll be an adjustment for both of us."
Prior to getting sick, Gonchar appeared to be getting a handle on the offensive skillset that has made him so valuable over his 18 years in the league. Before the game against Carolina Gonchar had three points in the three games he played prior, incuding the game winning goal against the Washington Capitals on January 29.
With an adept passer playing alongside him at the point, Gonchar could have more opportunity to get shots through from the point. That connection may take time, however, as the two need to get in synch first.
"You have to adjust to every partner you're playing with. The biggest thing is communication. You're learning from each other and getting on the same page. It'll take a few games."
February 7 also marks a milestone for Gonchar as the anniversary of his first ever NHL game. He debuted for the Capitals back in 1995 against the Buffalo Sabres. He sits tied for 19th all-time in points by a defenceman with Steve Duchesne who also played for the Senators from 1995-1997.
Many will remember Duchesne as the player who scored the game winning goal against Buffalo to clinch
the Sens' first ever playoff berth.
To refresh your memory...