BUFFALO -- The Senators hope Alexei Kovalev isn't grounded for long.
The Senators winger didnít make the trip to Buffalo for Friday night's game against the Sabres, but he is listed as day-to-day with a lower body injury and could return to the lineup as soon as Saturday against the Florida Panthers at Scotiabank Place.
The loss of Kovalev is another significant hole in Ottawa's offence. The club is already without winger Milan Michalek, out with a knee injury.
The decision to leave Kovalev at home means winger Ryan Shannon, a healthy scratch the last two games, will be inserted to play against Buffalo. The injury is shrouded in mystery because Kovalev took part in practice with the team Friday.
"He's possible," said Senators coach Cory Clouston. "It's bothered him for a while. I'm not going to say whether it's affected his play or not."
Shannon said he knows what he has to do.
"It's an opportunity for me to get back into the lineup and play a strong game because these points are bigger than ever," said Shannon.
To nobody's surprise, goalie Brian Elliott -- who has recorded back-to-back shutouts -- will remain in the net. The Sabres can clinch a playoff spot if they're able to beat Ottawa for the first time in five tries this season.