Bell curve stuns Gerber

CHRIS STEVENSON -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 1:53 PM ET

MONTREAL -- They're not even into the regular season yet and Senators goaltender Martin Gerber is already singing from the Dominik Hasek songbook.

"When you're up by a couple of goals, you've got to play a little more conservative," said the Senators goaltender as the Canadiens scored three goals in the third period for a 6-5 win last night at the Bell Centre.

"I hoped we learned from it."

Don't bet on it, Marty.

Hasek wrote the tune last year as he watched his impetuous teammates abandon him and blow leads left and right.

The Senators blew leads of 2-1, 3-1 and, finally, 5-3 going into the third in the final pre-season tune-up for both clubs.

As far as tune-ups go, this was like taking your car in for a little work and finding out you need a new engine as the Senators finished the pre-season with a (for what it's worth) 5-4 record.

WEAK WINNER

Of greater concern is Gerber. He was beaten three times in the third, once by new Canadien Sergei Samsonov and twice by Habs big gun Alexei Kovalev, who scored the winner on an average backhander from the slot that went between Gerber's pads.

"Neither goaltenders were shining lights, early for (Montreal's Cristobal) Huet and late for Martin," said Senators coach Bryan Murray, who saw his club take a 2-1 lead as the Senators' first two shots of the game beat Huet.

"The last goal seemed to catch (Gerber) by surprise. He was dropping and it got in before he got down ... but there are always concerns when you give up six."

Gerber, the Senators' $11.1-million man, had an underwhelming training camp and the refrain that he was getting better as camp wore on was left in tatters last night.

He was outplayed by sophomore Ray Emery in the pre-season, but that won't cost Gerber the chance to start the regular season in Toronto against the Leafs on Wednesday night.

One good thing is both goalies last night can thank Montreal GM Bob Gainey for taking much of the focus off them. He traded centre Mike Ribeiro to the Dallas Stars before the game for defenceman Janne Niinimaa, so that's what most hockey fans, especially here, will be talking about this morning.

Murray said the Senators' brain trust had a pretty good idea of who was staying and who was going before the game with the final cuts to be announced tomorrow.

Don't expect much in the way of surprises. Russian rookie Alexei Kaigorodov, who had an assist last night, will probably be kept around for a while to make sure he understands what's expected of him in the NHL game. Forward Denis Hamel will probably stick around, too, until defenceman Joe Corvo, who is out with a broken foot, returns.

At that point, Christoph Schubert, who will replace Corvo for now, will become the extra forward/defenceman and force the Senators to make a roster move down the line.

Murray said he and GM John Muckler talked Friday morning and were to talk after last night's game about the final roster moves.

"I believe I know where we are," said Murray.

Gerber believes he knows where his teammates should be, especially with a two-goal lead going into the third period.

"For some reason we didn't keep playing the way we did at the start of the game," he said. "That's something you just can't do. We have to learn from it right now and have a good first game (of the regular season)."


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