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Michalek anxious to return to action for Sens

by Rob Brodie / Ottawa Senators
Forward Milan Michalek, who suffered a broken foot back on Feb. 26, expects to return to the lineup sometime during the Senators' current two-game road trip (Photo by Andre Ringuette/NHLI via Getty Images).

RALEIGH, N.C. — In Milan Michalek's mind, the opportunity is anything but meaningless.

With just 10 games left to play in a season that won't include the Stanley Cup playoffs, the Ottawa Senators winger is still pushing hard to make an early return from a broken foot suffered Feb. 26 against the Philadelphia Flyers. He accompanied the team on a two-game road trip that begins Tuesday against the Carolina Hurricanes at the RBC Center (7 p.m., Sportsnet East, Team 1200).

After skating with his teammates earlier today at Scotiabank Place, Michalek said he'll likely play "one of these two games on the trip," which concludes Thursday night at Madison Square Garden in New York against the Rangers (7 p.m., Sportsnet Sens, Team 1200). He was originally expected to miss four to six weeks with the injury, suffered when he was struck on the foot by a Jason Spezza slap shot.

"He’s way ahead of schedule, so I’m not going to say whether he’s going to be ready for tomorrow or the next day," said Senators head coach Cory Clouston. "But he’s getting much closer."

Michalek, for his part, said "I'll be back playing soon."

"It was my second day skating (today) and it went pretty good," said the Czech winger. "(Doctors) said four to six weeks but it’s 3-1/2, four weeks now, so it healed pretty well. The X-ray looks good, too ... There is no rush at all. It feels good and I want to play.

"I thought it was pretty good a week ago, so I decided to come back and start working out. It’s been good so far."

While the Senators' season is set to end in less than three weeks, Michalek is hopeful he'll get the call to play for his homeland at the 2011 IIHF World Hockey Championship, which begins April 29 in Slovakia.

"If the (Czech national) coach calls me, I would like to go," said Michalek. "That’s one of the reasons I came back, too. But I felt good, so there’s no reason for me to not play (now)."

Meanwhile, Senators defenceman Sergei Gonchar, who suffered a concussion during Saturday's 3-2 overtime with over the Tampa Bay Lightning, isn't with the team in Raleigh is expected to be sidelined for at least a week.

"There’s a protocol where everything goes in stages with concussions," said Clouston. "You need to be symptom free, then you need to have a light workout, then the intensity increases. Even in best-case scenario, you’re looking at almost a week. Over the next couple of days, we’ll just see how he is and follow the protocol."

Around the boards

The General Motors Centre in Oshawa, Ont., will be the setting for the annual rookie tournament involving Senators prospects. Also taking part in the event, set to run from Sept. 10-13, are prospects from the Chicago Blackhawks, Pittsburgh Penguins and Toronto Maple Leafs. Tickets go on sale Friday at ... The Senators return home Friday to face Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals at Scotiabank Place (7:30 p.m., TSN, Team 1200). It's one of only four remaining home games for Ottawa this season.

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