Shutout ends goalie criticism ... for now

LANCE HORNBY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:38 AM ET

OTTAWA -- The goaltending duel in the Battle of Ontario looks like it will have an Ali-Frazier feel to it.

The first 48 hours saw both Andrew Raycroft and Martin Gerber suffer what their respective fan bases will call devastating losses, though Raycroft at least finished both games and celebrated his fourth NHL shutout last night in a 6-0 win.

Though Raycroft was beaten by a soft Christoph Schubert goal on Wednesday, he stopped two breakaways in a 4-1 empty-net goal loss and two more chances in alone last night.

"I know it's not over," Raycroft said with a laugh. "If I have a bad practice (today), people will be all over me. But this was awesome tonight. Being my first win made it more enjoyable."

Leafs coach Paul Maurice was a little shocked to be getting questions after Wednesday on whether he would turn to backup Jean-Sebastien Aubin for the rematch.

"You can't convince people Andrew played a good game, they only know he gave up four," Maurice said. "I don't want to sell the public on something I don't believe in."

Gerber was the toast of Bytown after Wednesday, but was heckled after giving up five goals in two periods last night.

"It's really disappointing," Gerber said of his crash and burn in the Sens' home opener.

He called it "a misunderstanding" when he left a puck for two of his defencemen behind the net, only to see them peel off in opposite directions and give Alex Steen a free path to set up Chad Kilger.

The Leafs sought an upgrade when trading prospect Tuukka Rask to the Boston Bruins for Raycroft in June, but prior to that, they were one of many teams checking out Gerber, Cam Ward's forgotten partner in a Stanley Cup run with the Carolina Hurricanes. The St. Louis Blues and Detroit Red Wings made free-agent offers to Gerber before the Sens grabbed him.

Senators defenceman Wade Redden said Wednesday's game, with a combined 70 shots and just two even-strength goals, was a good indication of what's in store later in the eight-game series.

"Raycroft stopped Jason Spezza and Dany Heatley on breakaways, Gerber made some point-blank saves right off the bat and settled us down," Redden said.


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