All eyes on Gerber

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 10:37 AM ET

UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- Martin Gerber packed with a purpose yesterday.

As the Senators begin a mini-road trip against the New York Islanders tonight at Nassau Coliseum (7:30, Rogers Sportsnet), Gerber will be get another chance to show he's regaining his form between the pipes.

After making a big step with 29 saves in a 4-1 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes last week, Gerber is going to get another chance to improve his 4-9 record and 3.26 goals-against average.

"I thought he played pretty well in Carolina. But more importantly, the latter part of last week I thought he really looked good in practice," said Senators coach Bryan Murray following a light workout at Scotiabank Place before the team flight last night. "I made that point before, but he had a couple of days where he looked like Martin Gerber is supposed to look. I felt real good about that for him and hopefully he can go into the game and take advantage of what happened.

"He's been out (close to) another week but hopefully, he can go back in and play well."

It makes a lot of sense to put Gerber back in against the Isles and save Ray Emery for tomorrow night's game in against the Capitals.

A 4-3 overtime loss to the Caps on Nov. 6 -- with the Senators blowing a 3-0 lead -- at the start of a four-game road trip put Gerber under a more intense microscope. But there was no break for him because Emery was injured the next day in practice in Atlanta.

Now, the Senators want to slowly work their $11.1-million man back into a groove. Gerber, who has started in only one of the last 10 games, said playing is the only way he's going to get out of the funk completely.

"That's the only way to get that feeling back," said Gerber. "It's all about playing games. It's hard to push in practice. not replace the games. You try to stay focused and close as possible to game shape."

"I felt good before that (Carolina game). The last two weeks were a pretty good stretch on the ice. It's been tough, but it's been good learning to get game together. It's felt better, that's for sure."

Murray said Gerber just has to keep building. The Senators have back-to-back games on the weekend, which means Gerber will likely start Sunday against the Blue Jackets in Columbus.

"He has to play well (tonight) and then we go from there. With the number of games we play in this league, you have the chance for that to happen with both of your goaltenders," said Murray. "They are both at a stage, where I think Ray is going well right now. I think if Martin plays like he's practised, then I think it's just a confidence thing. He understands that here (in Ottawa), it's a little different than Anaheim or Carolina and he has to grow confidence-wise to go along with his calibre of play."

It has to help that his teammates are playing better hockey. Ottawa has won eight of its last 10 games.

"We're getting there," said Murray. "Now, we have to become the type of team that works for 60 minutes."


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