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'A great game for our team'

by Rob Brodie / Ottawa Senators
Senators goaltender Pascal Leclaire is sidelined with a concussion but Binghamton callup Mike Brodeur filled the void in clutch fashion Thursday night by shutting out the New York Rangers (Photo by Andre Ringuette/NHLI via Getty Images).

Twenty-fours earlier, it seemed like the beginnings of a full-blown goaltending crisis.

Funny, however, just how much a shutout performance could do to calm the waters in the Ottawa Senators net. Not to mention the welcome injection of confidence one and all received from Thursday night's 2-0 victory over the Rangers in New York.

Now the Senators, who snapped a five-game losing streak with the big win in the Big Apple, can look toward Saturday's matchup with the Canadiens in Montreal (7 p.m., CBC, Team 1200) in a positive frame of mind.

Quite the turnaround for a team that saw starting goaltender Pascal Leclaire felled by a shot during Thursday's pre-game skate, then turned to Binghamton Senators callup Mike Brodeur, who arrived in New York just three hours before game time. All the Calgary native did was turn aside all 32 shots he faced in post his first career National Hockey League shutout in just his second-ever start.

"It was a great game for our team," said Leclaire, who's been diagnosed with a concussion and is sidelined indefinitely. "We needed that — we're not in the best situation and hopefully, that win can help us get back on track.

"(Brodeur) had a long day. It was great for him to come in and play that way. It gave us a little boost and we were able to win."

There might be more of that to come Saturday. The Senators (23-21-4) could get captain Daniel Alfredsson (shoulder) and defenceman Filip Kuba (lower body) back for the showdown with Canadiens, who share an identical record and seventh place in the Eastern Conference standings. But head coach Cory Clouston said decisions on the status of both won't be made until after tomorrow's pre-game skate.

Alfredsson, in particular, would supply a jolt for an offence that has been missing its entire first line — centre Jason Spezza and forward Milan Michalek remain on the injury list — for the first three games of this current road trip. Still, Clouston said "we just don't want to try to rush him."

"He's a little ahead of schedule and we don't want to put him in a position where all of a sudden, one hit and you're out for two or three more weeks," he added. "We want to be smart about this and make the right decision."

"We needed that — we're not in the best situation and hopefully, that win can help us get back on track. (Brodeur) had a long day. It was great for him to come in and play that way. It gave us a little boost and we were able to win." - Pascal Leclaire
Added Alfredsson: "There's a chance. I don't know how bit it is, but practice went well today. We'll see how it goes tomorrow and go from there. Confidence-wise, I'm not sure one practice really means anything. You would like to try it out a little bit more. But if it feels good tomorrow, I might go."

There is no such decision to make on Leclaire, who must wait until he's symptom-free before being declared fit to return to action. It's another frustrating setback for a goaltender who only returned to action Dec. 23 after missing a month with a fractured cheekbone and has struggled to find his game in the the new year.

"It is disappointing," said Leclaire, a native of the Montreal suburb of Repentigny, Que. "I was trying to get back into a rhythm and then this happened ... I'd rather be on the ice, especially coming here. I love playing in Montreal in front of friends and family and I can't do it, so it's frustrating.

"What can you do? It is what it is. I can't change anything and I'll deal with it the way I deal with everything else. I'll be positive and we'll see what happens. I just hope it isn't going to be too long."

Around the boards

Fifteen fathers of Senators players arrived in Montreal by bus today and will spend the rest of the road trip with their sons. They'll take in Saturday's game at the Bell Centre, then take the Senators charter to Boston for Monday's game against the Bruins (1 p.m., no TV, Team 1200) ... The Senators return home Tuesday to face the NHL-leading Chicago Blackhawks at Scotiabank Place (7:30 p.m., Rogers Sportsnet, Team 1200).

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