Elliott's time to shine

BRUCE GARRIOCH, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:06 AM ET

Brian Elliott had a new home in the Senators dressing room yesterday in the stall formerly occupied by Martin Gerber.

The question is: Will it be Elliott's permanently?

While the rookie goaltender is coming off back-to-back victories over the Hurricanes and Thrashers, the true test of where Elliott and the Senators stand will come tonight as they try to extend their winning streak to three games as the Canadiens visit Scotiabank Place.

With Gerber banished to the club's AHL affiliate in Binghamton for a two-week conditioning stint and backup Alex Auld unable to carry the load as the No. 1 goalie, Elliott has the opportunity of a lifetime to show the Senators he is ready for a full-time job in the NHL.

COAST TO COAST

While Elliott made his season debut last Saturday against the Rangers, the atmosphere tonight will be decidedly different with one of the Senators' archrivals in town, a full house on hand and the game being shown nationally on Hockey Night in Canada.

"It's exciting. It's a big rivalry. Hopefully, we can get another win at home here," said Elliott, who has a 2-1-0 record with a 1.69 GAA. "(The pressure) is the same. You just put it on yourself. You can't really worry about the outside world. You have to worry about yourself and the guys in the room.

"Hopefully, if we have the confidence in each other, we definitely have the skill in here to win a lot of games. We've been talking about this all week: Every start I get, I just have to keep getting more comfortable and better. If I'm doing that, then hopefully we're getting some wins."

A win tonight against the Habs could be a stepping stone for the Senators in their slim hopes of getting back into the playoff picture in the East.

Captain Daniel Alfredsson refused to buy into the theory that this is a statement game.

"We've just got to prepare ourselves every night. We're playing Montreal and they're missing some guys, but they play a really structured game. We're going to have to be smart. If we don't turn pucks over or take too many penalties, I like our chances," said Alfredsson.

"We're going to do everything we can to win. I don't think you can put a name on a game. We're just going to take it game-by-game in this situation. Every game is big for us."

Jason Spezza wasn't playing down tonight's game, noting that a win would give the Senators their first three-game winning streak of the season.

"Montreal is one of the best teams in the East. It will be an important game. We want to make sure we come out and play well," said Spezza. "If we can win this game, we beat a division rival, we will have won three in a row, and you can feel the guy's confidence lifting here.

"Everybody has contributed in the last couple of games and that's what we need: To get confidence from wins. There is no problem getting up for Montreal on Saturday night. These are the ones you look forward to (playing). You look at games like this on the calendar and you know they're going to be exciting games."

Senators coach Craig Hartsburg said he's not putting a lot of emphasis on this game.

"Every day we have to be making statements that we're focused and worrying about what we're doing. (Tonight) is no different," said Hartsburg. "I don't know whether it's a statement game, but it should be another step."


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