Leclaire in, Carkner out as Senators face Penguins

Ottawa Senators goaltender Pascal Leclaire is back in net and defenceman Matt Carker will be a healthy scratch for the first time this season.

Ottawa Senators goaltender Pascal Leclaire is back in net and defenceman Matt Carker will be a healthy scratch for the first time this season.

Coach Cory Clouston announced the lineup for Friday afternoon’s game against the Pittsburgh Penguins this morning and a couple of decisions raised eyebrows.

While the Senators coach generally switches his goaltenders following losses — Leclaire was in net for Wednesday’s 2-1 loss to the Dallas Stars — he opted to alter his plans, partly due to the fact Leclaire made 56 saves in a triple overtime victory over the Penguins in the playoffs last April.

Ironically, perhaps, Carkner is coming out. He scored the triple overtime game winner in that same game.

But Carkner is not, by any stretch, an offensive-minded player and the Senators definitely need to create more scoring opportunities. They go into Friday’s game ranked 25th in the NHL in scoring, averaging only 2.41 goals per game.

“In the last few games, he has struggled a little bit and we wanted to create a little more offence,” said Clouston. “We’re not, obviously, scoring and sometimes it’s not always what you’re doing, it’s what we’re looking for, as far as who we’re playing against. Matt has to just keep working hard and if he keeps it simple, he’ll be fine.”

The Senators were forced to take a defenceman out because Erik Karlsson is returning, after being a healthy scratch for the previous two games.

“We’ve had several conversations with Erik,” said Clouston. “If he doesn’t know what to do, there’s something wrong. He knows what he has to do. It has been kind of an up and down season for him — the same with our team — and it’s just a matter of going out there and executing.”

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