Leclaire shakes off 'weird plays'

DON BRENNAN, QMI AGENCY

, Last Updated: 9:24 AM ET

It was their game before Sunday's that the Flyers played at Fenway Park, right? So how come their goalies still looked like they were battling the sun in their eyes inside Scotiabank Place?

But never mind them. Who taught Ian Laperriere that pitch?

Jonathan Papelbon?

“It curved,” Senators ’tender Pascal Leclaire said when asked to explain the 60-foot (six inches) slapper off Laperriere’s stick that beat him just past the two-minute mark — just the second shot he faced in his half-a-work day.

“I think he just hit it when it was up (on edge) and it just skirted on me. I was going for a normal pad save, and it kind of curved and went five-hole. I didn’t look too good on it. It was kind of a weird shot.”

Leclaire pulled away from the post too soon when Darroll Powe beat him with his own rebound for the Flyers’ second goal. While Chris Kelly’s giveaway was mostly to blame for the third, coach Cory Clouston had seen enough. He yanked Leclaire after three goals on 10 shots in less than 26 minutes.

Elliott gave up one goal on 11 shots, but the only way he could have stopped Mike Richards’ point-blank blast during a two-man Flyers advantage would have been for it to hit him.

Meanwhile, too many “weird shots” are beating Senators goalies this season. Both Leclaire and Elliott have had their sensational moments, and both have allowed more than an acceptable number of weak goals.

For a team that could be battling for a playoff spot to the end of the regular season, steadier goaltending is needed.

“It’s frustrating,” Clouston admitted when asked about Leclaire’s penchant for allowing the softies, “but I thought last game (a 3-2 shootout win over the Islanders on New Year’s Eve) Pascal played very, very well. So it’s not like his game hasn’t been there at times. It’s just been inconsistent. For whatever reason, I’m not sure.”

What’s most consistent about Leclaire is his mindset. He doesn’t dwell. He moves on quickly.

He also cares more about how the team performs than his own numbers.

“I don’t know why you guys want to talk about that,” Leclaire told reporters quizzing him on his performance.

“We won. There were a couple of weird plays ... didn’t look too good on them. If you give up a bad goal and we win 2-1, it doesn’t matter. As long as they don’t affect games too much. If you’re able to play around these goals, that’s fine. You’ve got to give up goals. You’re (not always) going to have shutouts. That doesn’t bother me at all.

“Not a good day for the starting goalies,” he added with a laugh. “We didn’t last too long. But they happen. I would have liked to have done better, but the team won and that’s the most important thing.”

Yup, this time it worked out that way.

Starts and stops

Four goals, one assist, a plus-5 AND a moonwalk? All in a day’s work, eh Kovie? ... While Anton Volchenkov was also a plus-5 and Mike Fisher and Erik Karlsson were each plus-4, nobody had an uglier day than former Gatineau Olympiques star Claude Giroux, who was a minus-6, although Simon Gagne’s minus-5 performance came close.

Power shortage

The Senators’ four-goal eruption in the first period came without a power-play marker, despite the fact they had three man advantages. Their only shot on goal during their first two power plays was an easy wrister from the point by Chris Campoli. They had three shots on their third and only other man advantage for the game. That leaves the Senators 1-for-21 on the power play in their last six games. Yuck.

Between Periods

Along with his two goals, Chris Kelly also put a shot on top of the net in the first and hit the post in the third. So he could have had four, too. “I’m not going to get greedy,” said Kelly. “Two is nice.” ... The “jerk of all jerks,” as Don Cherry called Flyers winger Dan Carcillo on New Year’s Day, led his team with five hits, including the couple of times he ran Matt Carkner into the end boards. Unfortunately, nobody gave Carcillo the opportunity to stand up in the penalty box and raise his arms after a fight.


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