Check out the NHL game notes for tonight's Carolina-Ottawa matchup.
|Defenceman Chris Campoli says the strong play of goaltender Pascal Leclaire is "giving us a chance to win." The Senators hope to lay claim to their first win of the 2010-11 season tonight at home against the Carolina Hurricanes (Photo by Andre Ringuette/NHLI via Getty Images).
Almost from the moment he decided to sign with the team, Sergei Gonchar
heard all the talk about the Ottawa Senators' goaltending situation.
Three games into his first season with the Senators, the veteran blueliner wonders what all the fuss was about. Gonchar is as impressed as anyone by the play of Pascal Leclaire, who'll make his fourth straight start between the pipes when the Carolina Hurricanes visit Scotiabank Place tonight (7 p.m., TSN, Team 1200).
"I only can say good things about him," Gonchar said following the Senators' pre-game skate earlier today. "He (has been) helping us in every game. He was keeping us in the games and making great saves for us. When I got here, everybody was concerned about him, but it seems like he's proved to everybody he can play in this league and he's played very well."
Senators head coach Cory Clouston didn't hesitate when asked who he'll have between the pipes against the 'Canes tonight. Clearly, he sees somebody carrying a hot hand at the moment and wants to keep riding it.
"Overall, the last three games, he's been our best player," Clouston said of Leclaire.
Defenceman Chris Campoli took it a step further, saying "the better he plays, the better off we are."
"Even in the games we lost, like Buffalo 2-1, the only reason it was close was him," added Campoli. "In Toronto, the score (5-1) wasn't really a reflection of how he played. He's giving us a chance to win. He was really good again in Washington (a 3-2 overtime loss Monday), I thought. We just have to be better in front of him."
With a nod to his teammates, Leclaire thought they displayed the kind of effort in Washington that could produce a much-needed win tonight against the Hurricanes.
"It's a team game," he said. "You need 20 guys to go the same way to win these days in the league. Teams are too good now to take breaks on some nights. Once in awhile, you get away with it but on most nights, you have to be going all together. That's what we've got to keep doing if we want to win games."
"I only can say good things about him. He (has been) helping us in every game. He was keeping us in the games and making great saves for us. When I got here, everybody was concerned about him, but it seems like he's proved to everybody he can play in this league and he's played very well." - Sergei Gonchar
One player who plans to do just that is captain Daniel Alfredsson
, who missed the overtime period of Monday's loss in Washington with a lower-body injury but declared himself good to go after today's pre-game skate.
"I feel good," said Alfredsson. "I expect to go and go fully. It's been good progress and I'm happy with where I'm at. It was more soreness in the (leg) muscle. If you push it too hard when it's tight, there's more risk of making it worse and I didn't want to do that.
"I'm at a point now where I feel comfortable with it and it felt really good on the ice (today), so that's a good sign."
While Alfredsson agreed "the two points are important" tonight, he also suggested it's just as important that the Senators continue to build on Monday's effort.
"The most important thing is to continue with the way that we played," he said. "Be on the puck and don't give the other team a lot of time. I think we did a great job of that in Washington and now we've just got to make sure we bring that same effort tonight. If we do, I think the outcome will be good."Around the boards
Hurricanes rookie forward Jeff Skinner was the top scorer in his division (major atom AAA) and a member of the championship Toronto Jr. Canadiens team at the 2004 Bell Capital Cup. Tonight's game marks his first game at Scotiabank Place since then. "My parents are in town, so it should be an exciting night," said Skinner, whose older sister, Erica, is a Carleton University student ... There are 4,500 tickets remaining for tonight's game. It's a Metro Family Night, with fans able to pick up four tickets, four hotdogs and four drinks, starting at $99 ... As part of this evening's Kids Opening Night celebration, 11-year-old Lindsay Frechette of Pakenham will sing the national anthem and Gloucester's Nick Raponi, also 11, will take a turn as the guest public address announcer.