Daniel Alfredsson appears ready to try and help the Ottawa Senators eliminate the New York Rangers.
The Senators captain took part in an optional skate Sunday and indicated he could return from a concussion for Game 6 on Monday night.
"I'm hopeful," said Alfredsson. "We're obviously going to wait until tomorrow. But the way the last two days felt, I'm encouraged."
The veteran forward has been out since taking an elbow from Rangers forward Carl Hagelin in Game 2. Hagelin was suspended three games by the NHL for the incident and will be eligible to return Monday at Scotiabank Place.
With a 3-2 series lead, Ottawa is on the verge of an upset of the top team in the Eastern Conference.
Alfredsson watched all three games he missed from home — he elected not to travel to New York for Game 5 — and has been anxiously awaiting his return. The one saving grace was seeing his teammates have success without him.
"It could have been a lot harder," said Alfredsson. "The guys have played really hard. I think we've played the way we want to and it's been fun to watch — but it's also been a frustrating week.
"It's nice to be back on the ice and hopefully get back at it tomorrow."
The 39-year-old is recovering from his second concussion in the last six months. He's tried to focus on staying relaxed, especially after taking the morning skate before Game 3 last Monday and suffering a setback.
"I could tell I didn't feel right and we had to back off," he said. "It took a few days. It wasn't until Friday I started feeling a little bit better."
Not only is Alfredsson the NHL's longest-serving captain, he's also the heart and soul of the team. His return would be a big boost for the Senators — and a loud sellout crowd.
"He's a big part of this team and we're obviously a better team when he's in the lineup," said forward Nick Foligno.
Added Senators coach Paul MacLean: "We're encouraged and optimistic obviously from the progress he's made. We'll see what it is tomorrow. It's definitely encouraging."
Alfredsson has one goal in the two playoff games he suited up for.