Gerber steals the show

TERRY KOSHAN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 10:06 AM ET

The Ottawa Senators once saw their season go up in smoke thanks to a bad performance by their goalie at the Air Canada Centre.

Last night, another Senators netminder began his Ottawa career in the same building in strikingly different fashion.

Martin Gerber, who won 38 games for the Stanley Cup champion Carolina Hurricanes last season, was named the first star after making 33 saves.

HIGH PRAISE

"He was phenomenal," Senators coach Bryan Murray said. "He made critical stops at big times and I thought early in the game the Leafs really came out hard, but he kept us in there and allowed us to get going."

In April 2004, the Senators were ousted from the playoffs when Patrick Lalime stunk at the ACC in Game 7 of the first round. They're hoping Gerber, who once was sought by the Leafs, will help take them to their first Stanley Cup.

Signed by the Sens during the off-season, Gerber was the reason the visitors got through the opening 10 minutes unscathed. Instead of being sluggish after a pre-game ceremony that honoured Borje Salming, Red Kelly and the late Hap Day, the Leafs buzzed around Gerber. But he made big stops on Alexei Ponikarovsky and Kyle Wellwood.

Only a goal by Mats Sundin on a penalty shot midway through the second period ruined Gerber's shutout bid.

"We did not come out the way we wanted to," Gerber said. "You want to do well with your new team and I'm pretty happy."

GETS START AGAIN TONIGHT

Gerber, who will get the start again tonight in Ottawa in the rematch, may just the kind of goaltender the Senators need. Dominik Hasek won 28 times in 43 appearances last season, but his off-season tribulations weighed heavily in the dressing room. That won't happen with Gerber.

"He is a goalie and he will stabilize our room as much as anybody will," Murray said. "I just think we saw what Martin Gerber can do for this team. And he is a good person."


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