If the Ottawa Senators are to clinch an NHL playoff berth when they host the Boston Bruins on Friday night, they'll have to do it without captain Daniel Alfredsson and Mike Fisher.
Senators coach Bryan Murray revealed Friday morning that Alfredsson and Fisher will likely be out for "weeks" after both were injured in Thursday's 8-2 win in Toronto over the Maple Leafs.
Murray told reporters he didn't have a specific timeframe for the possible return of either player. Alfredsson injured his knee and suffered an upper-body injury, while Fisher re-injured his knee.
"[I'm] a little sore today and I'm going to miss a little bit of time here," Alfredsson said. "Obviously it's a bad time of the year and very frustrating, but I'll try to get back as quick as I can and go from there."
With many fans and media pundits questioning their playoff credentials, the Senators skated to an impressive victory over the Leafs on Thursday to come within a point of securing a post-season spot.
Ottawa (94 points) sits sixth in the Eastern Conference, just ahead of the Bruins (seventh, 92 points), Washington Capitals (eighth, 92 points) and Philadelphia Flyers (ninth, 91 points). The Senators could miss the playoffs with a regulation loss to Boston, a win by the Capitals and two wins by the Flyers in their last two games.
In Thursday's match, Alfredsson absorbed a thunderous hit from Leafs forward Mark Bell late in the first period with the Senators leading 2-1, while Fisher hurt himself in a collision with Toronto forward Alex Steen.
"I don't know if it's a head shot or not, but I think it's more my responsibility to be aware of where everybody is on the ice," Alfredsson said.
Ottawa coach Murray was more direct in his assesment of the play.
"I didn't like the [Bell] hit," Murray said. "I thought he was blindsided. The knee came out, and it was a hit to the head."
Senators forward Dany Heatley said most players let up when they have a player who, like Alfredsson was, is in a vulnerable spot after letting go of the puck.
"It's borderline dirty when you do that," Heatley said of Bell.
The Maple Leafs forward disagreed. "It was a clean hit. Guy cutting across the middle, takes a shot, I hit him," Bell said.
When asked whether an elbow connected with Alfredsson, Bell replied: "No, I hit him with my shoulder."
With Alfredsson and Fisher out, Ottawa will be looking to Heatley and Antoine Vermette, who had his first career hat trick for the Senators on Thursday, to lead the offensive charge.
Vermette has five goals and nine points in his last six games, while Heatley has four goals and three assists in his last six games against Boston and recorded a hat trick in a 4-1 victory March 11.
Ottawa also recalled left-winger Nick Foligno from Binghamton of the American Hockey League for Friday's game. The 28th pick overall in the 2006 entry draft has 19 points (6 goals, 13 assists) in 28 games with Binghamton this season.
Boston plays its regular-season finale Saturday at home against the Buffalo Sabres.