Can Elliott save the Sens?

BRUCE GARRIOCH, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:11 PM ET

Its not that Brian Elliott has been stinky bad or anything.

But he hasnt been that good, either. Just check out the stats. If he doesnt start stopping more pucks, the desperate Senators will get another early off-season.

In his NHL post-season debut, the Senators goalie, who has surrendered 10 goals against the Pittsburgh Penguins, woke up Monday with an .868 save-percentage the worst of any playoff netminder this season.

With Game 4 Tuesday night at Scotiabank Place, the Senators are hopeful Elliott can recapture the brilliance he showed at times during the regular season.

Hes been a little bit inconsistent, said Senators coach Cory Clouston on Monday. We need him to bring his A game (Tuesday) night, for sure. I dont think were a good enough team to have average goaltending, and Im not saying hes been average, but I think hes been a little bit inconsistent at times.

But thats no different than our team. We have to be real good ... everybody.

It would also help if the Senators got a few breaks.

While Sidney Crosby was lauded for his winning goal in Game 3 on Sunday, escaping the clutches of Andy Sutton to give the Penguins a 3-1 lead with 45 seconds left in the second period, Clouston said it shouldnt have counted.

Truth be told, I thought that was going to be a disallowed goal, said Clouston. I thought it was not necessarily deserving of a penalty, but Brian Elliott was not allowed to make a save on that goal.

(Matt) Cooke had his stick between (Elliotts) legs. To me, it was a pretty easy call. To me, it was pretty easy to blow the whistle, face off outside and keep going.

That might be true, but it doesnt ease the pressure or attention on Elliott. He worked hard to take the No. 1 job from Pascal Leclaire during the season. But goalies earn their name and reputation in the playoffs. So far, Elliott has left a lot of question marks.

His best performance was the 30 stops he made in Game 2 in a 2-1 loss in Pittsburgh. While shaky at times in Game 1, he was good enough for a 5-4 victory.

Giving up a goal to Alexei Ponikarovsky on the first shot of Game 3 was deflating.

You obviously want to win every game. In the playoffs, there are weird bounces and weird plays all over the ice, said Elliott. Youve got to take it for what it is and be positive. You have to use off-days like this to have fun and get ready for the next day.

The Senators are standing by their goaltender so its doubtful Clouston will make a change.

Elliott has to get back to the form that led him to a 29-18-4 record with a 2.57 GAA and .908 save-percentage.

At times during the regular season, Elliott was the clubs best player and deserves the opportunity hes getting right now.

Its not so much added pressure on me. Everybody just has to do their own job, said Elliott. I make a couple of saves, and we make a couple of good plays, and the game could have been different. You just have to know that.

We just have to realize were a good team, were good players and we just have to show that on the ice. I dont think you get to this level without being able to forget some games. You have good and bad. You have to keep it level-headed.

bruce.garrioch@sunmedia.ca


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