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Shaky performance puts Gerber on bench

by Shawn P. Roarke
STOCKHOLM – After Martin Gerber of the Senators allowed four goals in Saturday's season-opening 4-3 overtime loss to Pittsburgh here in the first game of the Bridgestone NHL Premiere 2008 series, Ottawa coach Craig Hartsburg decided to go in a different direction in Sunday's game.
Therefore, Alex Auld was between the pipes Sunday as the Senators took the ice to close out this two-game European set that opened the 2008-09 season.
Hartsburg said he had planned all along to alternate his goalies in these games, but he wanted to have the right to re-evaluate that decision if Gerber turned in a strong game Saturday.
Suffice it to say, though, that Gerber could not deliver. He allowed a goal on Pittsburgh's first shot and also have up a long-range goal to defenseman Rob Scuderi, who had not scored a goal in 120 games.
"It's best for both (goalies) and it's best for the team," Hartsburg said.
The Ottawa coach says he wants to give Auld some work because the team does not play again until Saturday and, in general, the Sens have a light October schedule. So, if Auld didn't play Sunday, there was a chance his first action would have been delayed considerably.
"Alex has a good camp and back-to-back (games), it makes sense for us," the coach said.
Auld was excited Sunday morning about his first opportunity to play for the Senators after signing a 2-year deal with team this summer. He admits he had a few butterflies in the morning.
"I've just been waiting and ready to go," he said. "I find every game you play, you've got a little bit of nerves and that is a good thing."
– While the Senators were trying to dampen a potential goalie controversy from erupting after Gerber's mediocre showing, the Penguins were fawning about the play of their goalie, Marc-Andre Fleury.
Such much so that he was back in the net less than 24 hours after stopping 32 of 35 shots in Saturday's win.
"I like the way he played, he played well on Thursday and tonight," said Penguins coach Michel Therrien, referencing Thursday's 4-1 exhibition win against Jokerit and Saturday’s 4-3 triumph. "He's a No. 1 goalie and with performances like that, we have a chance to win."
Penguins captain Sidney Crosby also thought Fleury was the difference in the game last night. After allowing a shorthanded goal to Jason Spezza in the closing minutes of the second period, Fleury slammed the door – stopping all 9 shots he faced in third and 4 more in OT – and let his team claw its way back into the game.
"You don't want to take it for granted, but that is what we have come to expect from Marc," Crosby said. He's always been solid for us."
A MEMORABLE  NIGHTPaul Bissonnette is still basking in the glow of making his NHL debut Saturday here for the Penguins.
Bissonnette, drafted in 2003 by the Penguins, completed his 5-year odyssey to the NHL by serving fourth-line duty for the Penguins in Saturday's win. He played seven shifts, totaling 4:10. He did not register a shot on net and was a minus-1, but did have 3 hits.
Yet, the details of the appearance weren't of importance; but, rather, the appearance itself was the story.
Bissonnette, 23, had spent three full seasons in the minor leagues and was not at the forefront of the coaching staff's thoughts when camp began. But, Bissonnette fought and clawed his way into the lineup in the preseason and never stopped improving.
My first NHL game really stands out and to win it means a lot," Bissonnette told at Sunday's morning skate. "I don't that I have really set down and thought about it yet and what it means, but I will."
But, he knows he beat the longest of odds.
"If you asked me a year ago if I would be here now, it wouldn't have been in my wildest dreams," he said, adding he had a few sleepless nights thinking about what his hockey future held.
Now, though, he knows that all the hard work and sleepless nights have paid off in the most unforgettable of ways.
"Sidney Crosby was saying after the game how cool it was that I made my NHL debut in Sweden; not too many guys can say that," Bissonnette said.
SCRATCHES – Other than the switch in goal, the Ottawa Senators stayed with the same lineup as the one Saturday night. The injured Mike Fisher (groin), Cody Bass and defenseman Luke Richardson did not dress.
Therrien made two changes to his winning lineup from Saturday night, inserting rookies Alex Goligoski and Bill Thomas into the lineup. Goligoski was put into the defensive rotation, replacing veteran Darryl Sydor. Thomas took Jeff Taffe's spot on the fourth line. The injured Petr Sykora (groin) was the other scratch.
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