The goalie who led the Ottawa Senators to the Stanley Cup finals last season has lost his last three starts and was fined this week after showing up late to a team skate. But the way the Senators’ offense is playing, it doesn’t matter much who’s in net.
The Eastern Conference-leading Senators look to continue their outburst and win their third straight on Thursday when they play their first home game in 12 days, hosting a Boston Bruins team they haven’t lost to this season.
The Senators (32-15-4) have the second-most points in the NHL despite a limited contribution from Ray Emery, who had a 2.26 goals-against average in last season’s playoffs while playing every minute for Ottawa.
Emery has a career-worst 2.95 GAA in just 16 starts this season, and was “fined substantially” by the team after he was late for a team skate on Monday, according to Ottawa general manager Bryan Murray
“We think Ray is a good goaltender,” Murray said. “We’re asking him to be accountable.”
Instead, the Senators have relied upon Martin Gerber, last season’s backup. Gerber has won Ottawa’s last two games, with help from 13 goals over that stretch from the offense, which leads the league with 3.47 goals per game.
The Senators beat the New York Islanders 5-2 in their first game after the All-Star break on Tuesday, getting goals from five players and 23 saves from Gerber.
“I saw the puck well tonight,” Gerber said. “I think it was a good win for us.”
Eight players have scored for Ottawa in its last two wins, which have followed a three-game losing streak. The Senators haven’t played at home since Jan. 19, when they lost 2-0 to Tampa Bay.
Ottawa, which has led the Bruins in the Northeast Division all season, has won four straight and seven of eight against Boston, including all three meetings this season. This is the first of five matchups between these teams in the next 64 days.
The Bruins (26-19-5) have won two straight and are 5-1-1 in their last seven games, including a 3-1 home victory over Nashville on Tuesday. Tim Thomas, the winning goalie in the All-Star game, had 37 saves and Glen Metropolit scored two third-period goals to propel Boston.
“Timmy’s saves - that’s what is going to stand out in my head,” Metropolit told the Bruins’ official Web site. “He made some unbelievable saves. It was fun to watch and it was fun to get the game-winner.”
The Bruins have allowed just one goal in each of their last three wins, the sign of a stingy defense that has led them to exceed expectations by sitting in playoff position so late in the season.
But they’ve squandered opportunities to contend in the Northeast. Their losses to Ottawa, combined with six defeats to Montreal, have the Bruins at 0-8-1 against the teams ahead of them in the division.
They’ve kept the Senators’ offense in check, never allowing more than three goals against them this season, but they’ve scored just five goals in the three meetings.