Leclaire finally gets a start for Senators

Goaltender Pascal Leclaire will see his first game action in almost a month when the Ottawa Senators take on the Vancouver Canucks at Scotiabank Place Thursday night.

Goaltender Pascal Leclaire will see his first game action in almost a month when the Ottawa Senators take on the Vancouver Canucks at Scotiabank Place Thursday night.

Leclaire, who started the season as the No. 1 netminder but lost his job after suffering a groin injury on Oct. 14, will get a chance to pick up where he left off.

Leclaire was the Senators’ best player at a time when they were struggling mightily. Now he’ll get a chance to show what he can do when everything’s clicking. Ottawa has won four straight games and six out of their last seven to crawl back into the playoff conversation.

While coach Cory Clouston said he chose to start Leclaire now because Brian Elliott “can’t play 70 games in a row,” the latter netminder is nursing a mystery injury and that was likely a factor in the decision. He did take the morning skate Thursday, but missed Wednesday’s practice.

“(Leclaire) has played well in the past against Vancouver, Brian is nursing a little bit of a bump and a bruise,” Clouston said. “He should be ready to full practice tomorrow.”

Leclaire said he felt great and was looking forward to getting back between the pipes.

“I’m like anybody else, I want to play as much as possible,” he said. “But the timing of my comeback, the team was playing well, Brian has been playing really well and it’s a coach’s decision, you want to stick with a winning lineup and what’s working. Players understand that.

“It just gave me a little more time to practice and feel comfortable and we’ll start from today,” Leclaire continued. “When I got hurt, Brian came in and played well for us and it’s healthy competition. If both guys can push each other, it helps the team and we’re all in the same business. We’ve got to win hockey games and when the team is winning, everybody looks good.”

The Senators have had plenty of success beating up on some of the NHL’s lesser lights lately, but the game against the Canucks kicks off a very challenging stretch against teams like Boston, Philadelphia, St. Louis and Los Angeles.

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