Hurricane Carolina

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 11:17 AM ET

RALEIGH, N.C. -- The dream of an undefeated season ended for the Senators last night.

You didn't think the Senators were going to win them all after they won six straight to start the year, did you?

The Nashville Predators are the last unbeaten team in the NHL today after the Senators blew a two-goal, first-period lead and dropped a 3-2 decision to the Hurricanes at the RBC Center.

EAVES NETS FIRST NHL GOAL

While rookie Patrick Eaves, with his first NHL goal, and Jason Spezza staked the Senators to a 2-0 lead, second-period markers by Eric Staal and Matt Cullen tied the game and Frantisek Kaberle's tally at 2:42 of the third period put Carolina ahead to stay.

Off to the best start in their history, the Senators could have tied a team mark set from Oct. 25-Nov. 13, 2001 with their seventh straight win. Instead, the Senators fell short as the Hurricanes simply outworked them.

"It seemed like they got better as the game went on," said Senators centre Bryan Smolinski. "We had a lot of chances, but it just seemed like one of those games we weren't going to win."

The Senators' best chance to tie the game came during a 5-on-3 midway through the third period, but Martin Gerber made a huge pad save on Dany Heatley, stifling the comeback attempt.

Officials reviewed the play, but it was ruled inconclusive.

Gerber gave up early goals, but he made huge stops down the stretch on Daniel Alfredsson, Chris Phillips, Peter Schaefer and Spezza as Ottawa outshot Carolina 46-27 overall -- 24-9 in the third period.

"They came at us hard and they kept hitting," said Senators defenceman Wade Redden. "We took the 2-0 lead and when you do that in somebody else's building, you had better get that third one. We weren't able to do that and they got the momentum."

The Senators were fortunate to be tied 2-2 after 40 minutes, mostly thanks to their penalty-killing units, which killed off a full two-minute 5-on-3 late in the period without giving up a scoring chance.

The second penalty on the 5-on-3 was a bench minor given to Ottawa coach Bryan Murray for yapping at the officials.

"That was on me," said Murray. "I said to the guy that he put us down two men after missing two calls on us and he said to me, 'Do you want to go to the box, too?' Then, he gave me the penalty and we got two more minutes."

LOOKED LIKE A BLOWOUT EARLY

Perhaps being up 2-0 only 3:05 into the first period was a little too much for Ottawa to handle. The Senators looked like they were going to blow the Hurricanes out when Spezza scored on the power play.

"I just thought we got a little careless. We made some defensive mistakes that resulted in goals for them," said Murray. "Then, Gerber made some big saves, which I've seen him do before when I had him in Anaheim."

Eaves, called up from the club's AHL affiliate to replace the injured Mike Fisher, opened the scoring only 14 seconds into the first by firing the puck past Gerber high on the stick side on a juicy rebound.

"I'd give it back to get the win," said Eaves.

That wasn't going to happen on this night.

bruce.garrioch@ott.sunpub.com

Hurricanes 3

Senators 2


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