THE STORY: The Ottawa Senators finally picked up their first win of the season in Game 4, but it came at a cost. Netminder Pascal Leclaire went down just 2:06 into the 3-2 win over the Carolina Hurricanes and won’t make the trip to Montreal. It’s just the latest injury mishap to befall the man some have taken to calling Glass-cal Leclaire, and it once again opens the door for Brian Elliott to take the No. 1 job.
THE SUBPLOTS: Elliott has proven in the past he can handle the workload (he DOES hold the team record for consecutive wins, after all) and has solid numbers in his career so far. How well he plays will probably determine whether or not he keeps the job after Leclaire returns. Don’t forget the Senators’ “goalie of the future” will also be in the lineup and could see a start or two, depending on how long Leclaire is out. As usual, the goalie-go-round is up and running in the nation’s capital.
THE WILDCARD: Alex Kovalev. He’s been Ottawa’s most disappointing forward, a designation he must be getting used to by now. That said, he is returning to Montreal and is usually motivated at le Centre Bell. Jason Spezza, Mike Fisher, Milan Michalek and Daniel Alfredsson woke up last game and contributed to the win. Now it’s AK27′s turn to stop shooting blanks and do the same.
THE OPPONENT: As with Ottawa, the biggest question coming in was whether the goaltending was good enough. As with Ottawa, goaltending has been the least of the concerns early on. Carey Price has been bombarded with shots (48 by Tampa Wednesday, 38 by Pittsburgh last Saturday) and played a pretty strong game, posting a 1-1-1 record and .918 save percentage. He needs help.
THE QUOTE: “While there was no injury as a result of the hit, it is clear that Foligno delivered a shoulder check from the blind side that made primary contact with Dwyer’s head. It is also clear that Foligno was delivering the hit in an attempt to get the puck. Finally, in determining that a fine was the appropriate discipline for this incident, I took into account that Foligno has not been suspended previously by the League.” — League disciplinarian Colin Campbell, explaining why he chose not to suspend Ottawa winger Nick Foligno for a questionable hit on the Carolina Hurricanes’ Patrick Dwyer Thursday night. Foligno will be in the lineup against the Habs.
THE USELESS (BUT KINDA COOL) FACTOID: Back in September, outgoing Habs goaltender and playoff hero Jaroslav Halak returned to La Belle Province to thank his fans and sign some autographs at the Fairview Mall in Montreal. Thousands showed up to show their appreciation for his efforts. According to Carey Price’s official web site, he’ll be having a signing of some kind on Dec. 5 (location undetermined). Will a guy who was booed in the first preseason game garner the same interest?
THE SICK BAY: Senators — D Filip Kuba (broken leg, three weeks). G Pascal Leclaire (groin, indefinite). Canadiens — D Andrei Markov (knee surgery, indefinite).
THE PREDICTION: The Senators finally played with some confidence against the Hurricanes and, for whatever reason, always seem more composed in front of Brian Elliott. With the Habs playing the second game of a back-to-back set, I have to give the advantage to the Senators here. Ottawa 3, Montreal 2.