by Todd Anderson
While general manager John Muckler remained busy on the phone today leading up to the 3 p.m. NHL trade deadline, coach Bryan Murray and the Senators players held an optional skate in Carolina in preparation of the first game of a home-and-home series against the Hurricanes tonight.
Facing the Canes for the first time since Nov. 28, Murray says he wants to see a better effort defensively than he saw on Saturday during a 6-5 victory over the Buffalo Sabres.
"We have to play a lot better defensively. If not, it doesn't matter who we play. We gave Buffalo so much space. We didn't look at our man, we looked at the puck. Carolina has an aggressive forecheck and they're very strong around the net."
Senators goaltender Martin Gerber will be in net for the third straight game against his former club this season. Gerber has won his last six starts.
"He's played well there, certainly well enough to get a game," Murray said of Gerber. "You try to reward a guy for his hard work, especially against his former team."
Forward Brian McGrattan, who sustained a charley horse injury on Saturday, won't suit up tonight. Forward Mike Comrie missed practice on Monday with the flu but is expected to play against Carolina and defenceman Joe Corvo returns after missing Saturday's game, also with the flu.
The return match of the home-and-home series against Carolina is tomorrow at Scotiabank Place during Hockey Night Barbados. Fewer than 1,000 tickets remain available.