Senators off to prep school

CHRIS STEVENSON -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 8:38 AM ET

Senators coach Bryan Murray had a message yesterday.

Fun time is over.

As the Senators get into the second half of their season, Murray made it clear he wants his team to realize there are two ends to the rink.

"We've had our fun scoring the goals. Now we're going to play both ends of the ice and do the things that we have to do to be really successful," said Murray. "It's early, but we're really trying to prep our guys to get ready to play hard hockey over the balance. "

5-6 IN ONE-GOAL GAMES

There has been a growing sense of concern in the Senators' camp lately about whether this team has what it takes to win close games against top competition. The Senators are 5-6 in one-goal games and 2-5-1 against the NHL's other division leaders.

Goaltender Dominik Hasek had some pointed words for his teammates after their 2-0 loss to the San Jose Sharks on home ice a week ago, wondering if they could figure out how to win some close games and protect a lead.

Since then, the Senators scored 5-3 and 6-1 wins over the Edmonton Oilers and the Minnesota Wild, respectively, on the road and did it with some gritty play and some scoring from the third and fourth lines.

Star winger Dany Heatley had two goals on the trip, but the rest of the goals came from guys like Vaclav Varada and rookie Patrick Eaves (who each had a pair), Antoine Vermette, Peter Schaefer, Chris Kelly, Andrej Meszaros and Anton Volchenkov.

"I've seen improvement. We've been focused for all 60 minutes," said Hasek, who will get the start tonight at Scotiabank Place against the Anaheim Mighty Ducks. "I said we had to play smarter. I don't say we were not working hard. We have been smarter and playing better positions defensively."


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