ST. PAUL, MINN. -- Even Dominik Hasek is a little surprised his comeback has been such a success.
Now, he just wants it to continue.
The Senators veteran goaltender, who will make his sixth straight start tonight against the Minnesota Wild (8 p.m., Rogers Sportsnet), didn't know what to expect after playing only 14 NHL games in the past three years.
But Hasek, who turns 41 on Jan. 28, has lived up to expectations and that's why coach Bryan Murray is sticking with him through this important part of the schedule.
"I will say this: I had some doubts about how it was going to go before the season," Hasek said following a workout last night at the Xcel Energy Center.
"It seems like, so far, things have gone pretty well for me and I've been pretty pleased with the way they've gone. I know we're not playing as well as a team right now as we have all season, but I'm hoping that (my play) will continue to go well.
"I'm at a point right now where I don't want to change anything."
Hasek, who sports a 22-7-2 record with a 2.07 GAA, will make his 32nd start tonight.
"I like to play and I feel good. I said before the season I would like to play 60-to-65 games this year and I'm pretty well on pace for that," said Hasek. "I'm right where I wanted to be."
MISSED OPPORTUNITY: Senators RW Brandon Bochenski, who bruised his shoulder when he slammed into the boards last Thursday against San Jose, won't be able to play in his homecoming tonight. That's a big disappointment considering there will be 35-40 friends and family in the stands who wanted to see him on the ice. "They're still going to come anyway and that's nice," said Bochenski, a native of nearby Blaine, Minn. "It's not going to work out this time, but hopefully the next time we're in here I'll be playing." The next time they visit won't be anytime soon. Because of the new schedule, the Senators won't return to Minnesota for another three years unless the league decides after this season the new scheduling format isn't working. "It's tough because I come back from a (separated) shoulder and then I get a different injury on the same shoulder," said Bochenski. "It's just bad luck." The family of W Patrick Eaves will also be on hand.
AROUND THE BOARDS: Senators RW Dany Heatley is slated to play with C Mike Fisher and Chris Neil -- that is if the latter's in the lineup tonight. Neil lasted exactly five minutes in practice before heading to the training room with soreness in his back. "It looks like he's going to be able to play, but we're going to have to wait and see," said Murray ... Hasek said he's not worried about whether he'll get the job as the starting goalie for the Czech Republic in the Olympics. The coaching staff could also give Nashville's Tomas Vokoun the nod. "(The coach) has a few options, but I cannot control that," said Hasek. "What I can control is playing well here in Ottawa. And if I prepare well and play well here, there's a good chance I'll be the starting goalie." Many believe the Czechs are leaning toward starting Vokoun ... Tough guy Brian McGrattan couldn't get Georges Laraque to fight him on Saturday in Edmonton, but the Ottawa heavyweight did pick up his first career NHL assist. Asked if getting a helper would send McGrattan on a scoring tear, Murray smiled and said: "It will if I put him on the ice." ... Ottawa captain Daniel Alfredsson required five stitches in the second period on Saturday after getting high-sticked by Oilers D Marc-Andre Bergeron. Alfredsson left the 5-3 Ottawa win for seven minutes, but returned and even did the After Hours segment on Hockey Night in Canada. "I'm okay. I didn't lose any teeth," said Alfredsson.