Emery's shot in arm

DON BRENNAN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:37 AM ET

TORONTO -- With the new tattoo he had painted during the all-star break crawling from under his shirt up his neck, Ray Emery announced that he's turning his bad into something good for the kids.

Tonight, he can put to rest one of his worst weeks as a pro by do something positive for himself.

"I asked (GM) Bryan (Murray) if I could kind of turn my fine into a donation," Emery said of his one-day's pay (approximately $14,500) penalty for being late to practice Monday on Long Island. "The team was cool with that, so I got to donate the money to CHEO."

That and any tax benefits he gets in the process aside, the tardy 'tender makes his first start since Jan. 22 when he faces the Toronto Maple Leafs tonight at the Air Canada Centre.

"He's going to want to play well for sure, obviously, in light of what's happened, and put that behind him," said Senators centre Mike Fisher. "He's getting a good opportunity (tonight)."

It will also be just the third time Emery has faced a Northeast Division rival this season. The other two such "big games" were in Buffalo against the Sabres -- a 4-2 loss Nov. 21 and a 5-3 win Jan. 4.

With a win tonight, it's expected Emery will have a chance to face the Habs in Montreal on Tuesday.

"It's been a while since I got a chance to play against a division team," said Emery. "I think if it's a big game against a high-calibre team, whatever the situation is, I think it's a bit easier to stay focused. I'm definitely excited to play that type of game.

GERBER SHRUGS IT OFF

"I think I do play well in bigger games but I don't think it's because it's a carefree thing. It's more of a focus thing. It's definitely good to get a chance to play close to home on a Saturday night in Toronto."

Asked about the chance to start a run between the pipes, Emery added: "I just want to beat Toronto first, then worry about staying in there later."

Martin Gerber, who gave up three goals on seven shots vs. the Bruins Thursday before shutting the door, did his best to disguise any frustration over getting the hook.

Gerber shrugged when it was suggested neither him nor Emery likes coach John Paddock's "win and you're in" approach, but both are trying to make the best of it.

"If you've got any other solution, please tell me," he said, smiling "I don't think it's worth it or helpful to spend too much thought about it. You've just got to wait it out, you have to try to help out the team right now as much as you can and wait for the next chance.

The Senators will again be without stars Daniel Alfredsson and Dany Heatley, with Patrick Eaves and Cody Bass also sidelined, but they are facing a team that's been hit just as hard by injuries.

The Leafs have also lost three straight and, as of yesterday, sat seven points out of a playoff spot.

They're desperate for victory, while the Senators desperately need to start playing better defence.

"It's just a matter of we've got to be mentally stronger, make sure we're ready," said Fisher. "Sometimes we're trying too much and forcing things because we haven't won as many games as we feel we should be. That leads to mistakes that are killing us."


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