|Ottawa Senators' goaltender Martin Gerber has beaten the Toronto Maple Leafs all three times he has faced them this season.
In return, Gerber continues to reward his coach for his decision making.
The Sens’ netminder beat the Toronto Maple Leafs for the third time in as many tries this season and improved to 10-1-0 overall as the sizzling Senators picked up their 13th victory by cruising to a 5-1 win in front of a capacity crowd of 19,613 at Scotiabank Place on Tuesday night.
Gerber’s play is a big reason that the Senators are off the best start in NHL history after 14 games. With 26 points, Ottawa (13-1-0) surpassed Detroit’s 12-1-1 start in 2005-06, which was matched by the Buffalo Sabres last season.
"You look around the room, everyone is enjoying it," Gerber said. "But it doesn't come easy. It takes a lot of work."
Making his third consecutive start, Gerber handled his share of the load and finished with 30 saves in a game that saw his team set the tone early. Less than four minutes into the contest, the Senators got goals from Chris Phillips and Patrick Eaves, who scored just 47 seconds apart as Ottawa quickly jumped out to a 2-0 lead.
Phillips got the party started at 2:59 when he drove to the net and fired a shot past Leafs goalie Vesa Toskala after taking a quick pass from the right corner from Dany Heatley. Eaves then finished off a 2-on-1 with Chris Kelly – and before the Leafs (6-7-3) knew what had happened, they were down 2-0.
Daniel Alfredsson gave the Senators a 3-0 with his 16th career shorthanded goal 1:21 into the second period. With Mike Fisher in the box for holding, Alfredsson was able to beat Toskala from a sharp angle as he one-timed a feed from Dean McAmmond past the Leafs’ netminder for his 10th goal of the season.
"I mean, 13-1, you hear that and you say `Wow,"' said Alfredsson. "We're playing well. But the challenge is to keep going. I'm not worried about streaks or records. I want to keep giving ourselves a chance to win."
Andrej Meszaros put the Sens up by four less than seven minutes later with a power-play tally – one that ended Toskala’s night. But Leafs coach Paul Maurice wasn’t about to blame his goaltender for this one, considering the number of breakdowns that went on throughout the night.
It was an unwelcome change for Maurice’s team, which had won three of its last four road games.
“What did we give up, 20 shots tonight?” said Maurice, referring to Ottawa’s 21 shots on goal.
“You’re going to look at the stats and somebody’s going to say, ‘Boy, their goaltending must have been off.’ It’s not the number of shots you give up. We gave up 12 odd-man rushes. You don’t want to give up five in a game. We gave up four in the first six minutes.”
With that mind, Maurice hinted that changes may be coming in regards to the Leafs’ lineup. After all, Toronto is already 11 points behind the red-hot Senators in the Northeast Division.
“We need to not have these kind of games, but we also need to find a way to stop the bleeding in these games,” a seething Maurice said afterwards. “We haven’t been able to do that. We’ve tried a number of different ways to get the point across, so we’re going to have to continue to find different ways to do this.”
Moments before Meszaros’ tally, Gerber made one of his biggest saves of the night. The Senators’ goalie was somehow able to rob Toronto’s Jiri Tlusty on a breakaway chance before Meszaros beat Toskala on a slap shot from the point to make it 4-0.
The Leafs finally got on the board with a power-play goal at 14:23 of the second, when Nik Antropov beat Gerber on a shot from the slot to make it 4-1. That was the only blemish on the night for Gerber, and the Senators later regained their four-goal lead when Kelly beat Andrew Raycroft 6:25 into the third period.
“We got off to a good start and our fans took over," Alfredsson said.
Material from wire services and team media was used in this report.