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McElhinney back in net for Blue Jackets

by Craig Merz

COLUMBUS -- There is no goaltending controversy brewing for the Columbus Blue Jackets, just a chance for reigning Vezina Trophy winner Sergei Bobrovsky to hit the reset button according to coach Todd Richards.

As such, Curtis McElhinney will make consecutive starts for the first time this season when the Blue Jackets host the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday. McElhinney stopped 24 of 26 shots in a 3-0 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday.

"McElhinney's game was good, both his last two games that he's played have been good," Richards said. "The other thing is it gives [Bobrovsky] a couple of days to work on his game."

Bobrovsky, who has a 2.79 goals-against average and a .910 save percentage in 11 games, compared to 2.00 and .932, respectively, when he was named the League's best goalie last season, has been doing extra work with goaltender coach Ian Clark to clean up his game.

Richards said Bobrovsky went through similar struggles at the start of last season when he alternated starts with Steve Mason. Bobrovsky won the job and was 18-5-3 with a 1.60 GAA in March and April.

"I know he'll get there. The question is when," Richards said. "Hopefully these couple of days off where he's able to spend time with Clarkie on the ice, a little extra time there and maybe getting into the routine of it, that helped spark his game last year playing a lot of games. We're hitting that [heavy schedule] this month."

While McElhinney is 1-1-0 with a 1.55 GAA and .949 save percentage, Richards made it clear he still is the backup, although he would not commit to who would start Thursday against the New York Rangers.

"He is our guy," Richards said of Bobrovsky. "He was the best goalie in the League last year for a reason. He galvanized this team and this franchise.

"We had other players play well, no question, but he was the guy who stepped up first and gave everyone else confidence, then everyone else's game kind of blossomed after that. He made me a good coach last year and that's what that one position can do."

The Senators will also go with Robin Lehner in goal after Craig Anderson hurt his neck in a collision Sunday with Valeri Nichushkin of the Dallas Stars. Nathan Lawson was recalled from Binghamton of the American Hockey League to serve as Lehner's backup.

Anderson did not make the trip but worked out off the ice Tuesday, according to coach Paul MacLean.

"When we get back [Wednesday] we'll see how he is, but it's as positive as it can be right now," MacLean said.

Although Lehner is 0-2-2 he has played well (2.73 GAA, .936 save percentage), including stopping 53 shots in 5-4 shootout loss to the New York Islanders on Nov. 1.

"We've got to support him better and at least eliminate those high-percentage opportunities," said Ottawa defenseman Marc Methot, who returns to Columbus for the first time since being traded to the Senators for forward Nick Foligno on July 1, 2012.

Foligno will not skate against his former club because of family reasons. He missed three games last month because his newborn daughter had heart-related health issues.

Here are the probable lineups for the Senators against the Blue Jackets on Tuesday:


Clarke MacArthur - Kyle Turris - Bobby Ryan

Cory Conacher - Jason Spezza - Chris Neil

Milan Michalek - Zack Smith - Mika Zibanejad

Matt Kassian - Derek Grant - Colin Greening

Jared Cowen - Erik Karlsson

Chris Phillips - Eric Gryba

Mark Borowiecki - Marc Methot

Robin Lehner

Nathan Lawson

Scratched: Joe Corvo, Patrick Wiercioch

Injured: Craig Anderson (neck), Erik Condra (right leg muscle strain)


Artem Anisimov - Brandon Dubinsky - Marian Gaborik

Cam Atkinson - Ryan Johansen - R.J. Umberger

Derek MacKenzie - Mark Letestu - Blake Comeau

Sean Collins - Michael Chaput - Jared Boll

Fedor Tyutin - Dalton Prout

Jack Johnson - Nikita Nikitin

Ryan Murray - James Wisniewski

Curtis McElhinney

Sergei Bobrovsky

Scratched: Nick Foligno, David Savard

Injured: Matt Calvert (abdominal), Nathan Horton (shoulder), Boone Jenner (lower body)

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