Senators almost Blue it

Ottawa Senators Martin Gerber, keeps his eyes on the puck as his team takes on the St. Louis Blues...

Ottawa Senators Martin Gerber, keeps his eyes on the puck as his team takes on the St. Louis Blues in third period NHL hockey action at the Scotiabank Place in Ottawa on Thursday March 20, 2008. The Senators defeated the Blues 3-2

BRUCE GARRIOCH, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:49 AM ET

Now, the real hard part begins.

The Senators, lucky to escape with a 3-2 win last night over the road-weary Blues, finish the season with eight games against Northeast Division foes.

Starting with tomorrow's visit by the Maple Leafs, the Senators will play each divisional opponent twice over the next two weeks.

And if the Senators are indeed going to secure home-ice advantage for even the first round, they're going to have to put forth a lot better effort than they did against the Blues.

While Senators coach and GM Bryan Murray wasn't thrilled with his club's performance, he'll take the win.

"If you're not happy with two points at this time of year, then you'll never be happy," said Murray. "And it doesn't matter who you play. (The St. Louis) players are looking to stay in an organization and to make an impression to have a job and a contract going forward."

GERBER GOOD AGAIN

Goalie Martin Gerber, making his ninth straight start, turned aside 24 shots and was the Senators' best player while earning his 28th victory of the season.

Coming off an embarrassing 5-1 loss to the Hurricanes last Sunday in Raleigh, last night's performance wasn't what Ottawa wanted.

Sure, the Senators got the victory, but the lowly Blues aren't going to be in the playoffs and were playing their eighth game of a nine-game road trip.

It shouldn't have been close.

But the Senators continue to struggle with consistency -- as they have since mid-November. Last night, the power-play units were a woeful 0-for-6 against the Blues.

While SenatorsMurray had planned to keep Randy Robitaille with Jason Spezza and Dany Heatley on the top line, he moved captain Daniel Alfredsson back into that spot on the shift after Ottawa took a 3-2 lead.

Robitaille was moved off the line to play with Cory Stillman and Mike Fisher after Heatley threw a perfect pass into the slot to Spezza going to the net and he tipped it by Hannu Toivonen on the glove side at 7:39 of the second.

"(Spezza) made a hell of play knocking that down," said Heatley.

The Senators were able to get some offence from their third and fourth lines, which always helps.

Christoph Schubert tied it 2-2 at 16:17 of the first period when he took a feed from Dean McAmmond following some good work on the boards by Shean Donovan.

Antoine Vermette opened the scoring at 2:08 of the first. Breaking in on a 2-on-1, Vermette took a perfect feed from Chris Kelly and beat Toivonen through the legs and it looked like the Senators might run away.

That didn't happen.

"We've got to get the Blues credit. We knew they were going to come hard on the forecheck and we kind of found a way in the second period to get away from them," said Schubert.

"We just started to play our game a little bit more. We struggled a bit at the beginning, but we were able to turn it around and get the two points."


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