Senators notebook: Two goals in 10 games a start for Foligno

After 10 games, Nick Foligno already has two goals, one of which was the winner in Thursday’s 4-3 nail-biter over the Florida Panthers. It’s a modest accomplishment, to be sure, considering that Milan Michalek leads the team with six goals and Jason Spezza has five.

NEW YORK — After 10 games, Nick Foligno already has two goals, one of which was the winner in Thursday’s 4-3 nail-biter over the Florida Panthers.
It’s a modest accomplishment, to be sure, considering that Milan Michalek leads the team with six goals and Jason Spezza has five.
But for Foligno it’s an encouraging start. Last season, he didn’t get his first goal until the 25th game. His second didn’t come until the 29th. And through the first 24 games, he had just five assists to show for his efforts.
So does this start maybe indicate that he’s going to have the breakout season everyone has been hoping he would have? If he did, it would be about time. Foligno, who will be 24 on Monday, is entering his fifth NHL season, just about the time when he has to assert himself.
Coach Paul MacLean wouldn’t put a figure on the number of goals he thinks Foligno will score. MacLean’s reasoning is that until a player shows he’s capable of reaching 20 or 30 goals, it’s unfair to put that expectation on him. And Foligno’s high so far has been 17 in 2008-09.
That said, Foligno is at a significant point in his career, said MacLean.
“My expectation of Nick is that he’s a fifth-year player in the league and he needs to establish himself as an NHL player, and what kind of a player is he?” he said.
While the two goals have given Foligno some breathing room, he’s not about to celebrate. He knows he’s being counted on to contribute more this year. General manager Bryan Murray has already challenged the team’s middle-tiered players — Foligno, Peter Regin, Bobby Butler, Brian Lee — to step up.
But Foligno said what he has to pay attention to is the way he’s playing. No shortcuts.
“Everyone wants to contribute,” he said. “I’d love to have a point-a-game average. Who wouldn’t?
“You expect some things of yourself, but the most important thing is that you’re playing the game the right way and doing what the coaches are asking, and I think I’ve been able to do that.
“I’ve got some great linemates, too (Stéphane Da Costa and Daniel Alfredsson), and when you play with those guys, you want to produce some points. That’s what our role on the team is. That’s something I want to do on this team, contribute some points. It’s nice to get a couple, but I just have to keep playing well, and I feel I have done that.”

DON’T LEAVE EARLY

The Senators are making fans pay for leaving early to beat the traffic. So far, two of 10 games have gone to a shootout and two have been decided in the final five seconds of regulation, including two of the past three games.
When Milan Michalek scored at 19:55 of the third period to give the Senators a 4-3 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Oct. 22, the Senators became the fourth team — and the first since New Jersey in a win over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Feb. 5, 2010 — to turn a last-minute deficit into a regulation win.
Jason Spezza’s goal at 19:24 tied the game at 3-3.
On Thursday, the Senators turned the trick again, winning another game in the dying seconds of regulation when Foligno scored with 2.5 seconds left.
The only other Senator to score a tie-breaking goal in the last 10 seconds of the third was Daniel Alfredsson against Tampa Bay on March 14, 2006. Last season, there were only two such goals: by the Anaheim Ducks’ Paul Mara and the Dallas Stars’ Jamie Benn.

BUTLER RETURNS

Bobby Butler, who has been out with a groin injury, made his return to practice on Friday. He still needs some conditioning, said MacLean, but if he’s needed to play, he can.

LINES FOR NYC

The lines at practice on Friday looked like this:
Kaspars Daugavins-Zack Smith-Chris Neil;
Erik Condra-Zenon Konopka-Jesse Winchester;
Nick Foligno-Stéphane Da Costa-Daniel Alfredsson;
Milan Michalek-Jason Spezza-Colin Greening.

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