The Ottawa Senators will hit the ice in Toronto without their starting goaltender.
Head coach Craig Hartsburg revealed Saturday morning that Martin Gerber suffered a pulled leg muscle during the team's practice a day earlier at Scotiabank Place. That means Alex Auld
draws the starting nod for the second straight night, facing the provincial rival Maple Leafs at the Air Canada Centre (7 p.m., CBC, Team 1200).
Brian Elliott has been recalled from the American Hockey League's Binghamton Senators to back up Auld tonight. Elliott is 3-1-1 with the B-Sens so far this season with a stellar 2.10 goals-against average and .924 save percentage.
"It’s a day-to-day thing and we don’t think it’s a long-term thing," Hartsburg told reporters in assessing Gerber's status after today's pre-game skate.
While the injury served to heighten the focus on the team's goaltending, Hartsburg said that's hardly the whole issue behind the team's 2-4-1 start this season. The Senators won only one of five games during a homestand that wrapped up Friday night with a 4-3 loss to the Anaheim Ducks at Scotiabank Place.
"We’ve had some ups and downs in that position but our whole team right now has to be better," said Hartsburg. "When you’re struggling like this, you can’t look further ahead than tonight and that’s the only game that we really are concerned with. We need our goaltending to be good and that’s no secret. You need good goaltending in this league to be successful.
"But we haven’t struggled early here just because of goaltending. That’s an easy excuse for everybody to use. The team has to play better and goaltending is part of it as well. There’s no way we can just blame goaltending."
In another lineup change, Christoph Schubert is being re-inserted into the lineup and will suit up as a defenceman in place of veteran Luke Richardson.
Tonight's game is the opener of a four-game road trip that will also see the Senators face off against the Buffalo Sabres (Monday), Florida Panthers (Thursday) and Tampa Bay Lightning (next Saturday). Hartsburg thinks the time away from home could be beneficial for a team that's still trying to find its game.
"We certainly have to get better playing as a team," he said. "That’s the biggest thing and maybe being on the road will help. It gets us back to being together more than we are at home but still, the focus is we’ve got to be a better team."