Gerber gets his chance to roll
Veteran stopper earns third straight start with strong back-to-back games
But for now, Martin Gerber will take the 10th shutout of his National Hockey League career and try to run with it. He'll make a third start in four games for the Ottawa Senators when they face off against the Atlanta Thrashers on Tuesday night at Scotiabank Place (7:30 p.m., Rogers Sportsnet East, Team 1200).
Gerber has allowed only three goals in his past three appearances, including Saturday's 2-0 blanking of the Tampa Bay Lightning. But the Swiss stopper, always the team player, preferred to put the emphasis on the two points the Senators earned after back-to-back road losses to the Chicago Blackhawks and Washington Capitals.
"Everybody was happy to get the win, that's for sure," Gerber said after the Senators began their on-ice preparations to face the Thrashers earlier today. "It's even sweeter when you get a shutout out of it but the main thing was to get a win. After that road trip, everybody was happy about that."
And everyone, it seemed, was happy to see Gerber get his just reward after watching Alex Auld make 11 straight starts over a one-month span.
"Gerbs works so hard. Everybody loves Gerbs," said forward Shean Donovan. "It's hard. You work hard every day and just wait for your shot. Auldy is playing great, too, and we're lucky here. We've got two really good goalies and they're battling it out. You can't ask for anything more. They're both good guys and in practice, they work hard.
"When (Gerber) got that shutout, everybody was so happy for him. You could tell everybody was happy and it was a good feeling."
Senators head coach Craig Hartsburg believes the Senators have the best of two worlds with a pair of goaltenders ready and raring to go whenever their names are called.
"To me, this is a good situation," he said. "(Gerber) had to wait his turn and he worked extremely hard to keep himself prepared and ready.... That's what you're supposed to do as a player. That's your job and he did his job.
"Gerbs was excellent and worked extremely hard in practice. Now he's ready to play and he played great (the last two starts)."
In Gerber's mind, there was only one way to handle the month-long layoff.
"If you're off for a long stretch, you have to do everything in that time between in practice to be as physically sharp as possible," he said.
Now his teammates need to provide a little more offence. Gerber was the victim of a 2-0 shutout loss in Chicago – the second goal was an empty-netter – and in his previous start, the Senators were edged 2-1 by the Carolina Hurricanes on Nov. 7.
“We didn’t score in front of him,” said Hartsburg. “We got one in Carolina and we didn’t get any in Chicago.”
Added Donovan: “(Both goaltenders) are coming up with the big saves. That’s what you need and that’s what you ask for with your goaltending. Now it’s up to the rest of us to start putting the puck in the net.”
Around the boards
Defenceman Anton Volchenkov (lower body) didn't practise today but Hartsburg isn't ruling out a return to the lineup on Tuesday just yet. "He's feeling a lot better. We think he'll skate in the morning," said Hartsburg. "He won't be out long. If he's not ready tomorrow, we don't think it'll be too long. We'll see how he feels in the morning" ... Centre Dean McAmmond is practising with the team but still hasn't recovered completely from a bout with pneumonia and isn't expected back anytime soon. "He's starting to practise with us. He's feeling better," said Hartsburg. "But pneumonia takes a big toll on you, so his lungs still are trying to get back to where they were before when he got sick." ... Fewer than 1,000 tickets remain for Tuesday's game and Saturday's visit by the Dallas Stars (7 p.m., no TV, Team 1200).