Leclaire glad to be back on ice

Ottawa Senators No. 1 goalie Pascal Leclaire suffered a concussion two and a half weeks ago. (TONY...

Ottawa Senators No. 1 goalie Pascal Leclaire suffered a concussion two and a half weeks ago. (TONY CALDWELL/QMI Agency)

DON BRENNAN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:54 AM ET

When he could finally sit in front of the TV again without getting a headache, Pascal Leclaire realized he enjoyed watching The Bachelor.

When he returns to work on a full-time basis in a week or so, Leclaire could be The Celebrity Apprentice.

Leclaire, the Senators No. 1 goalie when he suffered a concussion 2 1/2 weeks ago, will find himself reduced to the role of backup if Brian Elliott keeps playing the way he is. In winning six games in a row, Elliott has stopped 164-of-170 pucks fired his way.

Hes been playing great, Leclaire, who practised with the Senators Friday for the first time since his injury, said of his partner. I think that helps out quite a bit. He stepped up his game big time, made some timely saves. Hes been a wall there. Hes a big reason why weve won a lot of games in a row.

Im looking forward to coming back and hopefully play well, and just be part of that good thing weve got going on right now.

Leclaire has struggled (11-10-1, 3.07 GAA, .890 save percentage) around the two injuries hes had this season, both of which were the result of being hit above the shoulders by shots that indirectly and directly came off the stick of Mike Fisher.

The concussion he suffered after being dinged by a Fisher shot in a Jan. 14 practice was his second in a couple of years, he said.

Leclaire, who skated by himself a couple of times this week, thoroughly enjoyed sharing the ice with the guys again Friday.

Were doing so well right now, said Leclaire. When you kind of see it from the outside, youre really excited to come back. Its fun to be at the rink. The guys joke around and stuff ... its a great time to come back.

Erik the better

The improvement in the play of rookie D Erik Karlsson is noticeable by the day. The 19-year-old is a plus-6 during the last six games, lowering his season total to minus-7. He is also skating with significantly more certainty, making plays that the Senators knew he had in him when they took Karlsson 15th overall in the 2008 draft.

Every day I gain something new, every game is a new experience, Karlsson said Friday. The more experience you gain, the better you become.

Karlsson says hes grown as both a player and a person, and feels his skating and positional play are the areas hes improved the most in the past four months. He also says his teammates have been a big help to his development. The key, however, is his confidence.

In the beginning of the season, it was more, dont screw up, and you thought about that too much, he said. Now I think I found my game a little more.

This n that

Since returning from an injury after last years all-star game, Habs G Carey Price has won just 18-of-60 games ... Senators C Jesse Winchester is ready to return from a knee injury that has kept him out 10 games. Hell get in whenever we see fit to put him in, said coach Cory Clouston ... Habs D Jaroslav Spacek (flu) did not practise Friday. Montreal called up D Yannick Weber from Hamilton Friday, meaning Marc-Andre Bergeron could line up as the fourth-line right winger.

Ice chips

Against Pittsburgh Thursday, the Senators gave up the first goal for the first time in their eight-game winning streak ... C Jason Spezza has a goal in each of his last five games ... The Senators are 3-1 against the Habs this season and 46-44-5-3 vs. Montreal since their return to the NHL ... As of Friday afternoon, less than 50 tickets remained for Saturdays game.

Injuries

Senators: G Pascal Leclaire (concussion), out another week; C Jesse Winchester (knee), day-to-day. Canadiens: D Paul Mara (upper body), out indefinitely; RW Andrei Kostitsyn (lower body), out indefinitely.

don.brennan@sunmedia.ca


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