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'Frustrating' injury benches Sens' Leclaire

by Rob Brodie / Ottawa Senators
Goaltender Pascal Leclaire won't see action during the Senators' upcoming two-game road trip but is hopeful his pulled groin won't keep him sidelined much longer than that. The Sens have three days off after Monday's game in Pittsburgh (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images).

Pascal Leclaire has been down this road more times than he'd care to count.

But even all his past experience in dealing with a lengthy list of career injuries doesn't make the latest one any easier to handle for the Ottawa Senators goaltender.

"It is frustrating," Leclaire said earlier today when asked about the pulled groin he suffered just two minutes into Thursday night's 3-2 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes at Scotiabank Place. "It's almost like every year, I've got a little something (hurt). Especially last year, with the bad luck I had. Hopefully, it's not going to be too bad. We'll see."

Leclaire, who felt "a little pop" on the first save he made against the 'Canes, said he knew almost immediately something was wrong. He won't accompany the Senators on a two-game road trip that takes them to Montreal on Saturday and Pittsburgh on Monday.

"No idea," the goaltender said about how long he might be sidelined. "Groin (injuries) are freaky. It can be short, it can be long. But you have to be careful because of the position (I play).

"I guess it's a day-to-day thing, how you (feel when) you get up in the morning. I don't think I could skate tomorrow. But we have a lighter week coming up, with only a couple of games, so hopefully it won't be too long."

Head coach Cory Clouston said Leclaire's status will be re-evaluated next week.

"We'll wait until early next week before we know if it's a long-term thing," said Clouston, who on Thursday had called Leclaire "our best player overall" during the Senators' first three games of the season. "It's disappointing. Hopefully, for him and for the rest of the team, it's not a real serious thing and that he'll be ready to play (again) soon enough."

For Leclaire, his latest setback put a halt to perhaps his best stretch of hockey since first suiting up for the Senators at the start of the 2009-10 season. That campaign was marred by a pair of what can only be termed as bizarre injuries. He missed a month just before Christmas after being struck by an errant puck on the bench during a game and suffering a fractured cheekbone. Leclaire was barely back in the lineup when he was struck in the forehead with a shot during the pre-game skate before a matchup with the Rangers in New York and suffered a concussion.

"I guess maybe I kicked it (out) awkward and it just popped out a bit. That's why it's frustrating. Sometimes, you see it coming and you try to treat it ... I want to get a break from those (injuries). I hope it's not too long, so I can get back on the ice. But I'm used to it. I'm not worried about that and I know what I've got to do to get back. We'll go at it and do as much treatment as possible. It'll be all right." - Pascal Leclaire
"He's had not the best luck in the world," agreed Brian Elliott, who again assumes the starting goaltender duties in Leclaire's absence. "But he has pretty good spirits about it and he's going to try to get better as fast as possible. I think all the guys feel for him. If you've ever been injured, it's not a good feeling."

Leclaire knows he'd like the injury trail, which dates back to his days with the Columbus Blue Jackets, to end sometime soon. He admitted this injury "came out of nowhere."

"I felt great in the warmup," he said. "No tight groin in the last week or so. No issues at all. I guess maybe I kicked it (out) awkward and it just popped out a bit. That's why it's frustrating. Sometimes, you see it coming and you try to treat it.

"I want to get a break from those (injuries). I hope it's not too long, so I can get back on the ice. But I'm used to it. I'm not worried about that and I know what I've got to do to get back. We'll go at it and do as much treatment as possible. It'll be all right."

In the meantime, the ball is now Elliott's to carry in goal, along with a callup from the Binghamton Senators yet to be named.

"Every time you get in there, it's exciting," said Elliott. "It's just a chance to prove yourself and to help the guys win."

Added Clouston: "Great opportunity for Brian. He was in the same situation for us a couple of times last year and he played well for us."

Around the boards

Senators forward Nick Foligno has been hit with a $2,500 fine by the National Hockey League for what was deemed to be " an illegal check to the head" against the Hurricanes' Patrick Dwyer on Thursday night. No penalty was called on the play. "My intent was never to hit him in the head and it's unfortunate it went that route," Foligno said today in reacting to the fine. "(The NHL) said they understood and they know I'm not that kind of player. But in the same respect, they said they're trying to crack down on hits like that, so I understand their side of the coin. But I know what I was trying to do to avoid anything serious happening. It was just a hockey play, as far as I'm concerned." ... Captain Daniel Alfredsson and defenceman Sergei Gonchar didn't skate this morning, but Clouston said "they'll be fine" for Saturday's game at the Bell Centre (7 p.m., CBC, Team 1200).

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