Rotten in the Big Apple

CHRIS STEVENSON -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 10:55 AM ET

NEW YORK -- Okay, so when's the last time the Senators beat a team with some substance?

The answer remains the Carolina Hurricanes (a 6-2 win Dec. 28, 20 games ago) after the Senators absorbed a 5-1 loss to the Atlantic Division-leading New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden last night.

The Senators are now 9-7-2 since Jan. 1, that, no matter which way you cut it, is .500 hockey.

Despite being handed the first three power plays of the game, the Senators had trouble solving Rangers' outstanding rookie goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, who had the crowd chanting his name with his strong work.

Of course, the Senators made it easier for Lundqvist when they didn't get their first shot in the third until the 18-minute mark.

WASTED CHANCES

"We're not playing good, we're (bleep) right now to be honest," said Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson, whose club saw its lead over the Rangers shrink to three points for second overall in the East. "We had our chances. On the road and you get three power plays early ... When you don't capitalize, those are going to come back and haunt you."

"It looked like our vacation came early (last night)," said Senators defenceman Wade Redden. "We're definitely not working hard enough. The power play did nothing.

"We're just not as good as we should be. We're an easy team to play against right now. We don't make it tough on teams coming up the ice ... we shoot ourselves in the foot."

The Senators big line of Jason Spezza, Dany Heatley and Alfredsson, whose shortcomings lately were the subject of a talk with coach Bryan Murray at yesterday's morning skate, continued to struggle.

It was shut out for the third straight game and, to make matters worse, was on the ice for the Rangers' second and third goals, the latter a short-handed effort by Jason Ward on a 3-on-1 after a bad pinch by Spezza at the New York line.

Spezza wasn't around for the third after getting his bell rung in a collision with Ranger Marek Malik, barely making it back to the bench and kept out of the rest of the game for "precautionary measures."

"It's disappointing, but you learn lessons every day," said Murray. "We go 0-for-whatever on the power play and they get a 5-on-3 and score right away. The turnaround was those two quick goals early in the second."

Lundqvist, who entered the game trailing only the Senators' Dominik Hasek in save percentage (.926), made a number of strong saves among his 23 stops, including one with his mask off a shot by Andrej Meszaros in the second period.

The Garden crowd chanted Lundqvist's name after Chris Kelly broke his shutout bid with just under three minutes to go in the second period.

After the Senators had squandered those early power plays, New York's Jaromir Jagr scored his 36th goal of the season during a 5-on-3 advantage 49 seconds into the second period.

Jagr also added two assists to increase his league-leading point total to 83.


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