December 4, 2010
Senators hit new low in shootout loss
By BRUCE GARRIOCH, QMI Agency
The frustration is building for the Senators and their futility reached a new low Saturday.
The Senators lost their third game in a row and were shut out for the second straight game at home after Thomas Vanek scored the lone goal in a shootout to give the Sabres a 1-0 victory.
With Buffalo goalie Ryan Miller making 32 stops, the Senators set a club record for going scoreless at home of 178:30. The old mark was 158:42 set from Dec. 30, 1995-Jan. 22, 1996. The last time Ottawa scored was at 6:30 of the first period in a 4-1 loss to Edmonton on Monday.
The franchise record for futility of 187:42 was set from Nov. 17-26, 1997.
If the Senators don’t score in the first 9:13 of Sunday’s game at Madison Square Garden against the Rangers, they’ll shatter the 13-year-old mark.
Saturday night, Senators goalie Brian Elliott made 31 stops, but didn’t get any offensive support and suffered his first career loss to the Sabres in 10 starts.
Nobody can explain what it will take to score.
“If you’ve got the answer (to scoring goals), let me know,” said centre Jason Spezza, who saw the puck slip off his stick in the shootout. “We’re getting chances. We’ve got the puck around the net.
“When the puck goes in, it seems like it goes in all the time. It just seems like right now we’re getting chances and they’re getting blocked. We’re just not as confident. We’re not holding the puck as long in front of the net and being patient. When you go a long time without scoring, you definitely start gripping it a little tight.”
The Senators got a point, but the losses are building and the scoring slump is showing no signs of ending. The club had chances on Miller — who is riding a 148:14 shutout streak — but couldn’t bury them.
Coach Cory Clouston, feeling the heat with the club slipping further out of the playoff picture, is at a loss to explain what’s gone wrong.
“I can’t complain about effort and our structure,” said Clouston. “We played well, we played hard and we played right, we’re just not scoring goals.”
“I don’t know, if I knew that, we’d score goals,” said an exasperated Clouston. “I don’t have the answers. You have to give the goaltender some credit, (Miller) played well and both goaltenders were really solid.
“We’ve just got to keep working hard and putting the pucks to the net. We’ve just got to stay positive, keep working hard and trying to duplicate that game (vs. the Rangers). If we do, we’re going to come away with a win. It’s very disheartening for our guys.”
Defenceman Sergei Gonchar had the best chance, but hit the crossbar midway through the second. All four forward lines had opportunities, but Miller was there to shut the door.
The moral victory of playing well is hollow for Ottawa.
“It was a better effort, but it’s so frustrating that we couldn’t get one,” said centre Mike Fisher. “We’ll take the point and try to build off some of the good things we did (vs. Buffalo). We have to go forward.”