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Surgery sidelines Foligno

by Rob Brodie / Ottawa Senators
Senators forward Nick Foligno will miss at least two weeks with a small meniscus tear in his right knee, which will require arthroscopic surgery on Friday (Getty Images).

With each passing day, Cory Clouston continues to sound more like a spokesman for the team's medical wing.

The Ottawa Senators head coach's post-practice news conference inevitably opens with a lengthy injury update every day as the team watches a seemingly endless parade of players head to the infirmary.

So much so that when a reporter asked Clouston for the latest update earlier today, he replied "you've got to be more specific. The list is too long."

Add Nick Foligno to the list of walking wounded whose services will be missed for at least a little while. The third-year Senators forward will have arthroscopic surgery on Friday to repair a small tear of the meniscus in his right knee and is sidelined for at least two weeks.

If you've lost count, that's five regulars out of the mix as the Senators face back-to-back games Friday night in Newark, N.J., against the Devils (7 p.m., Rogers Sportsnet, Team 1200) and Saturday at Scotiabank Place versus the Minnesota Wild (7 p.m., CBC, Team 1200).

For Foligno, the timing of the injury couldn't be much worse, given that his play has been on a sharp upswing in recent games.

"He's played his best hockey of the year in the last two games, for sure," Clouston said after the Senators held an optional practice earlier today at Scotiabank Place.

Said Foligno: "That's what I felt. It’s unfortunate. You don’t want to get injured, but I was happy with the way I was playing ... I was just more confident and I was playing the way that I know I’m able to. That’s the biggest thing for me, confidence, and playing my game."

Foligno tweaked the knee during Monday night's 3-2 loss to the Maple Leafs in Toronto. It swelled up on the plane ride home and Senators doctors determined Wednesday that minor surgery would be needed to put the ailment to rest quickly.

"I didn’t really notice it much during the game but after the game, it just swelled up a bit and the doctors took a look at it and figured I needed a scope to clean things out so I wouldn’t be bothered by it the rest of the year," said a disappointed Foligno. "It’s just more of a maintenance thing  and hopefully, I’ll be back on my feet in a couple of weeks and back playing."

He was encouraged by the way his teammates rallied together to shut down the Buffalo Sabres 2-0 on Wednesday night in support of Brian Elliott, who recorded his second shutout in four games. The Senators are also currently missing centre Jason Spezza – who's likely gone until after the Olympic break with a torn MCL in his right knee – along with forwards Chris Neil and Shean Donovan, and starting goaltender Pascal Leclaire.

"It’s unfortunate. You don’t want to get injured, but I was happy with the way I was playing ... I was just more confident and I was playing the way that I know I’m able to. That’s the biggest thing for me, confidence, and playing my game." - Nick Foligno
The Senators are targeting the Dec. 23 game in Pittsburgh against the Penguins as a possible return date for Leclaire (fractured cheekone) and Neil (knee) but until then, they'll need to soldier on with the kind of collective team effort they delivered against the Sabres.

"I think anyone is going to want to fill the void," said Foligno. "When I get back, I’m going to play where they need me and that’s the biggest part right now, just worrying about getting back and getting healthy and coming back and making an impact once I’m back.

"It’s nice to see some guys step in and play well. It’s not easy to watch, but it’s fun to watch them play well. It’ll hopefully just be a matter of time before I’m back."

Wednesday night, Clouston even had defenceman Chris Campoli playing on the wing on the team's fourth line alongside Binghamton callup Josh Hennessy and Ryan Shannon.

"(Campoli) did a real good job as a forward," said Clouston. "That’s what we need when we’ve got guys hurt. We need guys to step up and play different roles.

"I thought the guys played really well as a team. In most facets of the game, whether it was faceoffs or breakouts or the forecheck, there were a lot of good things (happening) in different areas."

Around the boards

Forward Jarkko Ruutu learned this morning he's been slapped with a "minor fine" by the National Hockey League for his second-period hit that knocked Sabres forward Patrick Kaleta out of the game. He received a five-minute boarding major on the play.  "It is what it is," said Ruutu. "I'll just move on." Added Clouston: "He deserved a penalty, but I thought it was the right call not to suspend him." ... Donovan skated today for the first time since tearing the ACL in his right knee in a Nov. 19 victory over the Penguins but his return is still likely a few weeks away ... Metro Family 4 Packs are still available for Saturday's game against the Wild, featuring four tickets, four hotdogs and four drinks available for $99.

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