Fisher 'a lot better'

DON BRENNAN -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 7:33 AM ET

BUFFALO -- A couple of sidelined Senators shuffled off to Buffalo with their teammates yesterday, while a third -- the most recently damaged-- looks like he might avoid time on the shelf altogether.

After missing Monday's 6-4 victory over Atlanta, Daniel Alfredsson is likely to be back from a bout with the flu for tonight's tilt vs. the Sabres at HSBC Arena (7 p.m., No TV). Mike Fisher, who has been out nine games with a sprained ankle, could also be making his return.

"It feels a lot better ... I had a good skate," Fisher said after yesterday's optional practice at the Bell Sensplex. "We'll see how it responds (this morning). I'm getting close."

Tyler Arnason, who was knocked out of Monday's game in the second period with a possible mild concussion, said he "felt better fairly quickly" after reaching the dressing room.

Leaving the ice, he didn't look so good.

Cutting near the Atlanta net, Arnason was drilled to the ice by defenceman Garnet Exelby. When he got up and tried to skate to the bench, he started falling backwards until he was caught by linemate Vaclav Varada.

"I think I just got my bell rung," said Arnason, who didn't participate in yesterday's skate and will be a game time decision tonight. "I feel all right today."

Asked if Exelby should have been penalized for the hit, Arnason shrugged.

"I don't know, I haven't seen (the replay) on a good angle," he said. "I thought maybe his hands would have been a little high."

Bryan Murray did, too. In fact, the Senators coach suggested Exelby should be disciplined yet, although he doubts a suspension is forthcoming.

"I guess they didn't see it, so I don't think anything will happen," Murray said of the incident. "He had his elbows high. I think any hit to the head in our league is frowned upon, actually more than frowned upon, but you have to understand a little that the officials don't see everything, sometimes they're screened or not in the right position. But the hits they miss sometimes do the most damage."

Also wanting to see a slap on the wrist for the slash on the wrist he took from Ilya Kovalchuk was Chris Neil. Expanding on what he said after the game, Neil declared he'd be facing a stiff penalty if the tables had been reversed and he'd chopped at the Thrashers star. Kovalchuk received only a two-minute minor for the hack.

"I'd definitely be disappointed if (Kovalchuk doesn't get suspended)," said Neil. "If the roles were changed around, I would have been given five, then there would have been a review, and a suspension, probably five games. If you're going to crack down on these things, the league has to crack down on everyone, not just the muckers and the grinders."

While he opted against yesterday's skate to rest his aching bones, Neil said there's no chance he'd miss tonight's game. A win over the Sabres would move the Senators a single victory from clinching their division.

Buffalo locked up its first playoff spot in five years while picking up two points in a shutout victory over Toronto Monday night. The win was only the second in 10 games for the Sabres, who won eight straight in early March before being sent spiraling by a 4-2 loss to the Senators in Ottawa March 18.

"They've had a tough go," Murray said of the Sabres recent fortunes, "but sometimes a win like (the victory over the Leafs) acts as a springboard."

Starting his 19th game in a row will be Ray Emery, who was yesterday named the NHL's rookie of the month to go along with Monday's defensive player of the month acknowledgment.

"It's a chance to give us a bit more breathing room, a chance to play a good team that plays us tough," Emery said of the immediate challenge ahead. "We're happy to have Alfie back ... we just want to keep playing strong going into the playoffs."

don.brennan@ott.sunpub.com


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