The Senators have lost veteran winger Shean Donovan for at least six weeks after he sustained ligament damage from that knee-on-knee hit by Pittsburgh Penguin Matt Cooke Thursday night.
The full extent of Donovanís injury might not be known for up to two months, said Senators coach Cory Clouston after the morning skate in preparation for Saturday night's meeting with the Buffalo Sabres (7 p.m., CBC).
Donovan will not require surgery at this point on his damaged medial collateral ligament. Heíll undergo rehab.
ďThereís a good chance there may be some (anterior cruciate ligament) damage as well,Ē said Clouston. ďIt might take 6-8 weeks before we know what the complete extent is. It could be a lot longer depending on how the ACL is.Ē
Donovan was hurt late in the Senatorsí 6-2 win over the Penguins when Cookeís right knee slammed into Donovanís in a collision in the neutral zone.
ďI let my guard down, I guess. I thought there was nobody there and I made the turn. He was out there. Iíve played against him lots of times. He finishes checks. It was a hit and obviously he went through with his knee to finish it. Itís not the dirtiest check Iíve ever seen,Ē said Donovan, a fourth-liner who had been making the most of his minutes.
ďIíve had different injuries in my career. Obviously, itís not good to get hurt. Whatever. Weíve got good doctors and trainers here. Itíll be a quick recovery...You just make sure the MCL heals, put a brace on it and you go out. Lots of guys play (like that). I think I hurt it before, anyways. I think Iíve had it hurt before, so itís not that big of a deal.Ē
The Senators have won two games in a row and have five out of a possible six points from their last three games.
The goaltending matchup is expected to be Pascal Leclaire for Ottawa and former Senator Patrick Lalime for the Sabres.
Clouston said heís liked the Senatorsí improved effort lately.
ďWeíre better at the net, a little more net presence and just a little bit more consistent with the 60-minute effort. We havenít had as many lapses. It all starts with the goaltender, as well. Pascal has been very good for the last few games. Heís been able to give us an opportunity to win those games.Ē
The Senators will also be without winger Alex Kovalev Saturday after he returned home to Russia after the death of his mother-in-law.
With Donovan and Kovalev out, rookie Peter Regin and Ryan Shannon will get a chance to return to the lineup.
The Sabres, who lead the Northeast Division with a 12-5-2 record, have lost two in a row and are coming off a 2-1 overtime loss to the Boston Bruins Friday night in Buffalo. They started the season by losing only one of their first 10 games in regulation time. They are 4-4-1 since.