There was a scary moment midway through practice Sunday at Scotiabank Place, as goaltender Brian Elliott was run over in the crease by a group of players.
He went down.
He went to the bench for medical attention.
In the end, Elliott was OK and returned to the net.
And that’s a good thing because Pascal Leclaire is hurt ... again.
The oft-injured goalie has a lower-body ailment and may dress as backup Monday vs. the Atlanta Thrashers.
It would appear Elliott is the only option in net.
After making 29 saves in a 3-2 win over the New Jersey Devils Friday, Leclaire was probably going to get a chance to win back-to-back games for the first time in nearly a year — Dec. 26-to-Dec. 28 of last season.
“We’re hoping we’re okay,” said coach Cory Clouston following a 45-minute skate when asked if the club was going to have to make a roster move. “(Leclaire) should at least be okay to backup.”
If Leclaire isn’t ready, the Senators will recall Robin Lehner from their AHL affiliate in Binghamton to sit on the bench.
This isn’t an ideal situation. It also isn’t the first time Leclaire has been hurt this year. Making $4.8 million US and set to become an unrestricted free agent in July, Leclaire isn’t doing the Senators or himself any favours.
His career hangs in the balance. The way things are going, he’ll either be a backup or in Europe next season.
There weren’t many reporters at practice Sunday, but you could see the eyes rolling as Clouston confirmed Leclaire wasn’t on the ice because he’s hurt. He’s already missed seven games with a groin injury this year.
“Yes, I know (what the reaction is),” said Clouston. “All we can do is play the cards we’re dealt. We’ve got to get him healthy and move forward.
“We hope it’s not a long-term thing. That’s why he didn’t practise (Sunday), to make sure that he doesn’t aggravate the injury and hopefully be able to back up (Monday).”
Leclaire has only three wins in 11 appearances this season, but has been one of the club’s best players.
“He’s gotten more of an opportunity to prove himself and I think he’s played well,” said blueliner Chris Campoli. “We believe in (Leclaire). He’s a highly talented guy. He can help us win.”
Whether Leclaire backs up against the Thrashers, the Senators need to start putting together wins. They haven’t won two straight since a four-game winning streak from Nov. 2-Nov. 9.
They are buoyed by their better play and understand they have to beat teams like Atlanta if they are going to get back in playoff position.
“The guys are just playing, in general, better hockey,” said Campoli. “A few weeks back, there were times where we’d get down and instead of making it a game or getting into the game, we’d play ourselves out of it.
“We’re not doing that. I think things are turning around. Guys need to get confidence in here. Everybody needs to step up.
“Our big guys have to be our big guys, but the second guys have to step up to get the job done as well. It’s starting to come (around) a little bit.”