|Senators forward Nick Foligno, who enjoyed a three-point effort against the Boston Bruins on Tuesday night, wants to be a player the team's coaching staff calls upon during key situations in games (Getty Images).
The numbers indicated it was a breakout kind of night for Nick Foligno.
But the Ottawa Senators forward, who notched his first National Hockey League three-point game in Tuesday's 5-3 loss to the Bruins at TD Garden in Boston, is a firm believer that such numbers don't always tell the story. And there's a bigger picture to consider beyond the stats line.
"It was nice to be rewarded," the fifth-year Senators forward said following a team off-ice workout earlier today at Scotiabank Place. "Some other games, you’re scratching your head because the pucks aren’t going in or things aren’t happening. But that’s the breaks of the game and it was nice to be able to get those points.
"You want the win a little bit more but any way I can help the team, that’s the biggest thing. I think every guy in this locker room feels the same way. As long as we’re going out and doing what we have to do to help the team, that’s all you can ask, and I think the rest will (follow)."
Foligno notched a career-best 34 points and 20 assists for the Senators last season, and he's hoping to build on that in 2011-12. But it isn't so much about how much offence he can produce for the team, but rather when he gets the opportunity to do so. Case in point: the dramatic goal Foligno scored with 2.5 seconds left on the clock to sink the Florida Panthers 4-3 last Thursday night at Scotiabank Place.
"If you’re getting put out there in situations to succeed, you’re going to do well," said the Buffalo native, who celebrated his 24th birthday on Monday. "I feel like I’ve been able to do that and I want to be out in more (key) situations and help the team win. I think every guy on this team would rather have that than anything else, to have the confidence from the coaching staff and your teammates knowing that when you go out there, you’re going to do a good job."
And it's that steady opportunity to contribute to team success that motivates Foligno the most.
"I’m just looking to play well and to be counted on by the coaches," he said. "I’ve thought about all those (personal) numbers and they really don’t mean much. As long as you’re playing well, the numbers will come and if the team is doing well … usually winning teams have the guys with career-best years. That’s something that we’re all focusing on here. It’s just a matter of going out there and playing well."
'Confusing play' one to remember for Cowen
If Jared Cowen's celebration of one of those hockey moments to remember seemed a little understated ... well, there was good reason for it. When the Senators defenceman's shot from the point found the back of the net behind Bruins netminder Tim Thomas on Tuesday night, it marked his first career National Hockey League goal. But given all the traffic in front of the Boston net, the 20-year-old Cowen needed some time just to be sure it was real.
"It was kind of a quick play," said Cowen. "I wasn’t actually sure I scored at first. I didn’t actually see it go in because there were so many guys in front. It was a little bit of a confusing play there."
But there was no mistaking the grin on his face as the Saskatoon native talked about it today.
"I don’t think anybody can say they’re disappointed about their first goal," said Cowen, who's been a steady performer on the Senators blue line as a rookie. "Everyone dreams about getting their first one."
Around the boards
With the NHL's current protocol on head injuries mandating at least a week off before a player can return to game action, don't expect to see Daniel Alfredsson in the mix this weekend. The Senators captain suffered a concussion after taking a blow to the head from Wojtek Wolski of the New York Rangers last Saturday and has only been cleared for light activity. "He has to be ready to play," Senators head coach Paul MacLean said when asked about Alfredsson's potential availability for Saturday's matchup against the Buffalo Sabres at Scotiabank Place (7 p.m., CBC, Team 1200). "He hasn’t skated and if he hasn’t practised before Saturday, then we’re probably not going to play him.” ... Senators forward Colin Greening was one of the finalists for the NHL rookie of the month award for October, which went to Ryan Nugent-Hopkins of the Edmonton Oilers. Greening notched eight points (4-4) in 12 games for Ottawa during the month.