Sens wary of Thrasher duo

BRUCE GARRIOCH, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 7:37 AM ET

First, it was Sid the Kid.

Tonight, goalie Martin Gerber's task is to shut down the Thrashers' dynamic duo of Ilya Kovalchuk and Marian Hossa as the Senators return to Scotiabank Place for the first time in two weeks.

Senators coach John Paddock is going to stick with his hot hand against Atlanta after Gerber made 26 saves in a 4-1 victory over Sidney Crosby and the Penguins on Thursday to end a long road swing.

"I don't think (Gerber) really had a lot to do, but certainly in the Pittsburgh game with the amount of breaks that Crosby had, (Gerber) was outstanding in that effort," said Paddock.

Did Gerber steal the two points?

"No, that's what goaltenders are supposed to do, stop the puck," said Paddock. "You play a team (like the Penguins) that's coming back off a road trip, and a successful one, and they're going to come out hard in the first period.

"We helped them by turning over the puck at their blue line and giving them four of their five odd-man chances. He was big in the net for us."

Paddock said Ray Emery, who is still bothered by a sore right hip, could play if needed.

"He's going to back up, which means he'll be able to play," said Paddock. "He's obviously better than he was. We'll have a better read on where he's at (today), but his status is no different than it was (before the Pittsburgh game)."

Obviously, the Senators will need to do a better job shutting down Kovalchuk and Hossa than they did against Crosby, who had a career-high nine shots.

Crosby praised Gerber for stopping him cold on two clear-cut breakaways, in the first and third periods, respectively.

"Breakaways, I like my chances," said Crosby. "Give (Gerber) credit, he made some good saves."

NETTED HAT TRICK

The Senators are 2-0 this season vs. the Thrashers, who will host Ottawa on Thursday in the teams' final meeting of the regular season. Ottawa scored a 3-1 win in Atlanta on Oct. 10 and a 6-4 victory Nov. 1 at home.

Kovalchuk scored a third-period hat trick, but it wasn't enough to propel the Thrashers to victory.

"We played them very early when (GM Don Waddell) took over (as coach) and the difference was Kovalchuk was happy and dominant," said Paddock. "Playing Kovalchuk and Hossa together is about as dynamic a duo as there is in the league.

ADDED RECCHI

"If they can get (Slava) Kozlov going on that line with (Mark) Recchi, that's going to give them more balance.

"We saw what (Kovalchuk) did here and what he can do from anywhere inside that blue line. He's extremely dangerous. It's as big an offensive and defensive challenge to stop Kovalchuk as Crosby is. Crosby's the best player, but I don't think you want Kovalchuk to have the (number) of breakaways that Sid had because it wouldn't be good."

Paddock said the Senators must do a better job defensively against the Thrashers.

"We turned the puck over for a lot of the (Penguins chances)," said Paddock. "It's probably just not us. It probably happens to most teams. You turn the puck over, and turn the puck over, you're probably going to have things go wrong the other way."


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