Sens hit road vs. Capitals

DON BRENNAN, QMI AGENCY

, Last Updated: 8:38 AM ET

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- To explain the absence from practice of a player who has only minor bumps and bruises or simply needs a break, Cory Clouston generally uses the term "maintenance day."

The players have another word for it.

"Yeah, it's Princess Day today," Pascal Leclaire said at Chris Neil's prodding from across the dressing room. "Skip practice, give it a day of rest and be ready for (Thursday night)."

Alex Kovalev had a Princess Day, too. While each made the trip to Washington, neither is certain to play when the Senators go up against the Capitals at Verizon Center (7 p.m., TSN).

"Both should be ready, but we're not positive," Clouston said after declaring it a "maintenance day" for Leclaire and Kovalev. "I'm not going to go any further than that. If we have more to give you, we'll give it (Thursday)."

The task would be considerably tougher without either. Kovalev has six points in the last two games and Leclaire looked good stopping all 19 shots he faced after relieving Brian Elliott in Tuesday's 4-1 loss to the Bruins. But both of Wednesday's princesses have run hot and cold all season.

The inconsistency of Leclaire is more surprising. His alarmingly high 2.84 goals against average and unacceptable .895 save percentage has been put down to the fact he missed most of 2008-09 and six weeks of this season to injury. It figures, then, that the need for more mending time would be another setback to his improvement -- not to mention further question his durability.

Leclaire went down in agony during a third-period collision Tuesday. After a visit from trainer Gerry Townend, he played on.

"Somebody fell on me, I don't know if he fell by himself or was pushed," said Leclaire, who was asked what part of his body was hurting. "We're not talking about it today, apparently, we're doing top secret, so you're going to have to pull up the videos and stuff and guess, I guess."

Leclaire, who had surgery on his ankle last season, was wise to a reporter attempting to learn specifics by asking if it was an area of the body he had hurt before.

"Everything's been hurt on my body before, so I guess, yes," Leclaire said with a laugh. "I think I answered that a month ago. But I was able to finish the game and felt I had good power. I felt all right. So that's definitely a good sign."

That he had to come into the game cold -- relieving Brian Elliott after the latter was pulled following the Bruins' fourth goal and 16th shot -- may have been a factor in his getting injured.

"It's never the ideal situation when you come into a game like that. It's tough," said Leclaire. "It's almost (like) if you sit on your couch for five hours, then go for sprints without stretching."

Leclaire will start tonight if he's able, Clouston said.

"We have to give them more support, and they also have to be better for us," Clouston said of his goalies. "Pascal will get most of (the starts). At the start of the season, when all things were equal and everyone was healthy and going well, we thought it was going to be about a 4:1 ratio, 3:1 ratio, somewhere in that range, As of right now, we still plan on going with that. Barring injury, barring anything else. We'll adjust if it needs adjusting."

The Senators, 6-10-1 away from Scotiabank Place this season, play six of their next seven on the road. They could pick a better place to start. They've won just 11-of-32 games here and none since March 12, 2006. Their last visit to Washington was a 7-4 loss -- the last game of Craig Hartsburg's tenure as coach.

"We've just got to go play hard, play well," Clouston said of the secret to road success. "Need consistency from our goaltending straight on out."

Clouston said a 4-3 overtime win over Washington at Scotiabank Place on Nov. 23 should give the team confidence. Ironically, that was the game Leclaire suffered a broken cheekbone while sitting on the bench.

"We've got to play better in front of our goaltender, for sure," said Mike Fisher. "Some teams seem to be getting bounces and before you know it ,we're behind by a few. When we're outworking teams those types of goals don't seem to go in."


Videos

Photos