Chicago's Lalime has back surgery, out 2-3 months

CHICAGO -- Patrick Lalime's debut with the Chicago Blackhawks will have to wait a while.

Chicago on Thursday announced Lalime, who signed a one-year, $700,000 contract with the Blackhawks on July 1, will undergo back surgery Friday and is expected to be sidelined two to three months.

While preparing for training camp, which opened Thursday, Lalime experience back pain. The Blackhawks' medical staff tended to the veteran goaltender and determined surgery was necessary.

Lalime's absence leaves the backup job to Nikolai Khabibulin up for grabs. Sebastien Caron, who signed a one-year deal in August, and Brian Boucher, who is in camp as an invitee, figure to compete for the position.

A sixth-round pick of Pittsburgh in 1993, Lalime made an immediate impact upon his arrival to the NHL, setting a league record for the longest unbeaten streak by a rookie to start his career by going 14-0-2 with the Penguins in 1996-97.

Lalime enjoyed his best season with Ottawa in 2001-02, posting a career-high 39 wins and a league-best 1.39 goals-against average.

Named to the All-Rookie Team in 1997 and selected to play in the All-Star Game in 2003, Lalime struggled with St. Louis in 2005-06, going 4-18-8 with a 3.64 GAA while being demoted to the American Hockey League for a stretch and suffering a season-ending knee injury in early April.

In 353 career games with the Penguins, Senators and Blues, the 31-year-old Lalime owns a 171-130-40 record with 33 shutouts and a 2.49 GAA.