Less than two weeks ago, Jack Hillen was on the receiving end of an Alex Ovechkin slap shot. He was projected to miss six to eight weeks with a broken jaw and damaged teeth.
Yesterday he sported a gash on his chin but otherwise showed little effect of what appeared to be a grisly injury Jan. 26.
"I feel great," Hillen said at the Coliseum. "I'm hoping to get back on the ice in a few days."
Hillen had surgery and had two plates with several screws inserted to repair his jaw. Fortunately, he did not have to get his jaw wired shut and is progressing steadily.
Hillen won't be able to absorb any contact for some time and will have to practice with a specially made mask to protect his face, but all things considered, he said he was fortunate to rebound so quickly.
"I was lucky," he said.
"He looks pretty good for getting hit by a puck in the [face]," teammate Freddy Meyer said, taking a playful jab at his friend. "He may even look better."
Tim Jackman (facial injury) skated before the rest of the team yesterday and has been skating for a few days. It still is unclear when Jackman, who suffered a broken orbital bone against Ottawa Dec. 31, will begin practicing with the team . . . Martin Biron and Brendan Witt played in Bridgeport's 3-2 overtime loss against Springfield Friday. Biron, who was sent down for conditioning and will rejoin the team Sunday, made 39 saves. Witt was a minus-1 in his first AHL game since April 1997.