|Senators goaltender Martin Gerber has won five of his last six games.|
by Todd Anderson
With Ray Emery sitting out his first match of a three-game suspension tonight, Martin Gerber takes over in goal when the Florida Panthers visit Scotiabank Place. Gerber's teammates and coaches are confident he will put in a strong performance over the stretch.
"He's worked hard on his game," Senators centre Jason Spezza said after participating in an optional skate this morning. "We want to support him."
Forward Mike Fisher thinks Gerber will relish the chance to showcase his talent that led to 38 victories last season with the Stanley Cup-champion Carolina Hurricanes.
"This is a good opportunity for him over the next three games. We know we have two great goaltenders .We know (Gerber) will be there for us when we need him."
Defenceman Wade Redden says Gerber will be energized heading into tonight's contest.
"He's been waiting for this. I think he's excited, eager and ready to go. He's come up big for us the last five or six games."
Gerber is 5-1-0 in his last six starts, including a first-star performance during a 3-2 win over the Washington Capitals in his last game on Jan. 30.
Senators head coach Bryan Murray thinks Gerber will be more comfortable knowing he'll be back in the net for three consecutive games.
"I hope there's a little more comfort level," Murray said. "The fact he would get in a game, and then I would play Ray the next night was a little added pressure on him.
Emery was suspended for three games after a high-sticking incident during a 5-3 win over the Montreal Canadiens on Feb. 10. The Senators recalled Kelly Guard from their American Hockey League affiliate Binghamton Senators to back up Gerber.
After tonight, Gerber is expected to start against the Atlanta Thrashers on Saturday afternoon and the Edmonton Oilers next Tuesday.