Senators go with Leclaire to start season

Pascal Leclaire will start in goal for the Ottawa Senators when they face the Buffalo Sabres at Scotiabank Place Friday night.

Pascal Leclaire will start in goal for the Ottawa Senators when they face the Buffalo Sabres at Scotiabank Place Friday night.

Coach Cory Clouston also revealed that centre Jason Spezza has about a 50 per cent chance of playing in the game. Spezza tweaked his groin in practice this week and will be a game-time decision.

Asked why he decided to go with Leclaire over Brian Elliott (neither netminder distinguished himself during the preseason), Clouston said it was because Leclaire is “supposed to be our go-to guy.

“We need to give him an opportunity to at least start Game 1,” he added. “I don’t think Brian outplayed him, so to speak. I think that Pascal is coming in with the right frame of mind, he put the time in over the summer and we need to give him an opportunity.”

Leclaire is looking to rebound from his injury-riddled, underwhelming campaign last season. Acquired from the Columbus Blue Jackets in a trade for popular centre Antoine Vermette, he was expected to give the Senators the reliable goaltending they’ve always lacked.

Instead, he lost his starting job to Brian Elliott before yanking it back with a couple strong performances during the playoffs.

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