PITTSBURGH -- Pascal Leclaire looked like anyone but a goalie who had just kept his team alive in the Stanley Cup Playoffs in three overtimes in his first career postseason start.
As the Ottawa Senators goalie stood outside the team's dressing room at Mellon Arena after Thursday's dramatic 4-3 triple OT win allowed the Senators to stave off playoff elimination, Leclaire was the proverbial calm, cool and collected.
Fifty-nine Penguins shots? No problem. Over 40 more attempts blocked by his teammates? Great. For Leclaire it seemed like just another day at the office, although the circumstances were decidedly not ordinary.
Leclaire had replaced Brian Elliott in the second period of the Game 4 loss to the Penguins in Ottawa and had allowed three goals on 23 shots in 33:41, so he toted a 5.29 goals-against average into the game. He played Game 5 like he had left all the nerves and jitters behind in Ottawa. The Senators had never needed their goalie more than they did Thursday night, and Leclaire delivered.
"He played outstanding," Senators coach Cory Clouston said. "He was confident, comfortable. I thought he was very square and poised. Boy, did he come through for us."
"I thought in the second and third periods we did a better job of making it tough on him," said Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby, who picked up a goal and an assist in the game to give him a League-leading 13 points in the postseason. "But he played solid."
"Their goaltender played very well tonight," Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said. "You have to keep firing at the guy and looking for opportunities, rebounds to pounce on. That's something we thought we'd have to get is a rebound goal and to score because they were blocking a lot of shots. Leclaire was very good."
His biggest problem was trying to keep food down during the overtimes. He said he tried some bread, but that didn't work, so he switched to pineapple for some between-periods nourishment and that did the trick.
Just as Leclaire did in surely earning the nod in goal for Game 6 Saturday night.
"I wanted to be a part of it," Leclaire said of his first start. "The guys blocked a lot of shots. I was excited to get a chance to play."
Drafted with the No. 8 pick by Columbus in the 2001 Entry Draft, the 27-year-old Leclaire came to Ottawa at the 2009 trade deadline for Antoine Vermette and was penciled in as the Senators' top goalie. A combination of injuries and poor play saw him finish the season at 12-14-2 with a 3.20 goals-against average in 34 regular-season games, numbers that prompted the Senators to turn to Elliott.
"You hope for a chance," Leclaire said.
He got it, and now the Senators have one as well.