Elliott hopes to save day

BRUCE GARRIOCH, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:54 AM ET

BUFFALO — The Senators new “Zero Hero” is ready for the ride to the post-season.

Coming off back-to-back shutouts with 29 saves in Montreal Monday and 26 stops vs. the Flyers at home Tuesday, there is no reason to believe goalie Brian Elliott won’t get his third straight start Friday against the Buffalo Sabres at the HSBC Arena.

With eight games left in the season, a playoff position on the line and the possibility of finishing No. 1 in the Northeast Division still realistic, the Senators are expected to ride Elliott down the stretch.

He’s looking forward to the challenge.

“In this game it’s, ‘What have you done for me lately’. You have to perform every night. That’s the same for every guy on the team,” said Elliott Thursday. “If you want more ice time, you’re going to have to use your (chances) effectively.

“I just approach every opportunity as that and I try to take advantage of it. The past two games, just having the confidence that we can beat teams that are on a run like Montreal and beating a good team like Philly, we definitely feel we can beat some more teams.”

Since Jan. 1, Elliott has a 15-6 record. He reeled off a franchise-record nine straight victories from Jan. 18 to Feb. 4 during the club’s 11-game winning streak. In the last two wins, he has made key stops at key times and has given the group confidence.

That’s what the Senators need from their goaltender. Pascal Leclaire has struggled with injuries this year and hasn’t played up to his capabilities. Elliott isn’t trying to look at the big picture. He hasn’t had any discussions with coach Cory Clouston about the long-term.

“We haven’t talked about (the stretch) at all. It’s one game at a time, really. To me, that’s probably the best way to approach it. You don’t want to look too far forward,” said Elliott, who has a 24-17-8 record with a 2.58 goals-against average.

“If you don’t get on a run going into the playoffs, you don’t really give yourself a chance. I don’t know from experience, but that’s what the veterans are saying. If we keep getting some wins here, we’ll keep getting our confidence. We still have to get in the playoffs first.”

The Senators are feeding off the goaltending.

“You get a tremendous amount of confidence,” said Ottawa winger Nick Foligno. “When our goalies are playing well, it just gives you that confidence that if you make a mistake they’re going to be there to back you. That was the case these last two games.

“(Elliott) played great. It’s going to be important going forward, with us missing some guys, to have that confidence in the guys back there. It just adds more stability to our team.”

Clouston doesn’t announce his starter until game day, but has been pleased with the way Elliott has stepped up.

“You can’t win without goaltending. If the goaltender doesn’t make the saves, you’re not going to win the game,” said Clouston. “(Ryan) Miller kept Buffalo in the game (Wednesday vs. Montreal), they’re down 2-0 and he made a save on a 2-on-1 and on a breakaway.

“Lo and behold, they win the game (3-2). Without those saves, you can’t win the games.”

The Senators return home Saturday to host the Panthers.


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