Senators (12) Daniel Alfredsson celebrates his goal with Chris Kelly (22) and Joe Corvo (7). (CP PHOTO/Fred Chartrand)
The Ottawa goalie made 35 saves on Tuesday night to help the Senators to a 3-2 victory over the Washington Capitals. It was just his sixth start in the past two months and his first since Jan. 7. "It's always good to get some ice time and that's all I'm looking for right now," said Gerber. "I just try to get as much work as possible and be patient."
Dany Heatley had a goal and an assist for the Senators (30-21-2) while Daniel Alfredsson and Jason Spezza scored once each.
Alex Ovechkin and Donald Brashear replied for the Capitals (21-23-7), who have lost six of their past eight games.
Gerber last start was a 6-1 win over the Philadelphia Flyers nearly a month ago.
He was at his best when it mattered most Tuesday, stopping 13 shots in the third period as Washington pushed for the tie in front of 19,178 at Scotiabank Place.
"At the end they got some momentum but we battled through it," said Gerber.
The closest the Capitals could get was 3-2 after Brashear's second goal of the season at 3:02 of the final period.
Olaf Kolzig made 35 saves for Washington.
The Capitals had the better of the chances over the final 20 minutes but were unable to capitalize despite having two power plays in the period. Overall, they were 0-for-5 with the man advantage while the Senators scored once in their five opportunities.
"We gave up too many shots but penalties created a lot of opportunities for them," said Senators coach Bryan Murray. "We had careless use of the stick and they got good momentum from that.
"Once we got a head we were a little defensive, maybe more than we wanted to, but we got it done."
Ovechkin extended his point-scoring streak to 12 games when he scored his 32nd goal of the season at 9:04 of the second period to pull the Capitals to within a goal at 2-1.
Heatley restored the two-goal advantage for the Senators after digging his own rebound loose and stuffing the puck past Kolzig on a power play at 16:31. The goal was the 31st of the season for Heatley who, leads Ottawa in scoring with 67 points.
"He's been hanging in there and he bounced back tonight and we had a lot of confidence in him back there," Heatley said of Gerber.
"He was huge."
The Senators finished the first period with a 2-0 lead on goals by Alfredsson at 9:04 and Spezza at 16:52. They could have had a third but Kolzig stopped Mike Comrie on a breakaway just prior to the Spezza goal.
Alfredsson scored his 18th of the season on a soft shot that went through the legs of Kolzig along the ice. As soon as the puck went in, Kolzig shook his head in disgust.
"It was a puck that I didn't pick up until it came through our defenceman's legs," Kolzig explained. "I didn't see the release and I couldn't squeeze my legs quick enough. It was an innocent play and an innocent shot, so there was a bit of frustration.
"We talked about getting off to a good start and I thought we did until that goal."
Spezza scored his 20th of the season and first since returning three games ago from a knee injury that cost him 14 games. He took a pass from Peter Schaefer off his skates at the side of the net and tucked the puck into an empty net.
Mike Fisher, who was playing his first game since missing the past 14 with a knee injury, also had an assist on the Spezza goal.
Notes: The Senators are off until Saturday, when they host the Toronto Maple Leafs . . . Washington plays the second game of its three-game road trip in Florida on Thursday against the Panthers.