Sens need to tidy house

DON BRENNAN -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 11:53 AM ET

Sabres 6

Senators 2

Daniel Alfredsson's assessment of last night's embarrassing lost to Buffalo was blunt.

It had nothing to do with injuries or a patchwork lineup, but rather a sloppiness in both ends of the ice by he and his mates.

"We had a lot of chances ... I should have put a couple of more in," said the Senators captain, who scored his 41st of the season in the 6-2 loss to the Sabres at Scotiabank Place.

Alfredsson also singled out his centre, saying a "(Jason) Spezza turnover cost us on the fifth goal," and took the heat off a blue line that was again missing Zdeno Chara, Wade Redden and Chris Phillips.

"It's not the defence, it's more our turning the puck over," said Alfredsson. "It's leading to odd man rushes and that's the way you (lose) a game. You've got to play smarter, and not give up the odd man rushes we do."

Ottawa trailed for all but 2:44 of the 60-minute game, and Alfredsson admitted that when you're behind a couple of goals, there comes a point where you have to gamble in hopes of making something happen.

"But even when the game is close, we're turning the puck over way too much," he added.

With two weeks until the playoffs, they better correct that in a hurry.

Sniper And The Helper:

The most goals Dany Heatley has scored in any one season of his life are the 70 he had in 60 games with the Tier II Calgary Canucks about a decade ago. In today's NHL, with the potential of young superstars such as Alexander Ovechkin, Ilya Kovalchuk and Sidney Crosby, Heatley says "for sure" when asked if someone will score 70 again in this league. Does he have a shot at it one day? "I don't know, maybe, possibly," said Heatley, who has 47 with five games left. "To score goals, things have to go well. Who knows what can happen?" Beside every great scoring winger is a talented centre to feed him the puck, and while Heatley would still have a lot of goals playing alongside the selfish Alexei Yashin, he's got a good thing going for him right here, right now, with Ottawa's present day No. 19. Spezza assisted on Ottawa's two goals last night to remain on a torrid personal streak. He now has eight helpers in his last four games and 18 in his last 13 outings. That gives him 67 assists on the year, the second-highest total in the league, one more than Orleans native Marc Savard of Atlanta and 16 less than San Jose's Joe Thornton. Spezza has only played 63 games -- 14 less than Savard and 12 fewer than Thornton. He and Thornton are the only two players in the NHL averaging more than an assist a game, Spezza at 1.06 and the Shark at 1.10. Heatley's got a shot at scoring 70 one year all right, especially if he keeps playing with Spezza.

Starts and Stops:

The Senators might want to have a word with CBC. They've now lost the last three games they've been on Hockey Night in Canada ... In the first minute of his first game back after missing two with a sore neck, Anton "A-Train" Volchenkov lined up Jason Pominville with what would have been a tremendous hit had he not missed the Sabres winger by a split second. The way Volchenkov went into the boards, back first and head snapping, well, he must be over the neck problem ... Best shot of the night came from Taylor Pyatt, who had been a healthy scratch for the Sabres the previous three games. His second period wrister went through the legs of Senators D-man Filip Novak and over the left shoulder of Ray Emery for Buffalo's third goal ... Hit of the night was from Chris Neil, who left Henrik Tallinder in a heap later in the second.

Between Periods:

If only you had a ticket in your pocket with number 903567, you left Scotiabank Place last night with an extra $15,000 in your jeans. The 50/50 draw has never been so sweet .... Nice to see the sudden optimism surrounding Dominik Hasek's comeback attempt, which at least partly stems from the goalie's bubbly new attitude. I mean, he did wear the right equipment yesterday, but later admitted there are still things he can't do in it. Getting up and down is an issue, though, whether the guy that's having trouble doing so tells you with a smile on his face or not.

Things That Make You Go Hmmm:

Chara stayed on the ice well after yesterday's morning skate, all alone except for a few dozen pucks. His snap/wrister was probably about 25% (or even less) of it's usual velocity, but he did get it off without any obvious pain. The big man grimaced in serious discomfort with every backhand he attempted, however ... Chris Phillips skated for about 15 minutes Friday and another half hour yesterday, which was the 11th day since his knee injury. Afterward, he said he the knee felt pretty good, and that a return for Game 1 of the playoffs is realistic ... Brian McGrattan and Andrew Peters were healthy scratches last night. How unfortunate ... Best thing about a 6-2 loss to the Sabres? There was no fear of the Senators choking in another shootout.

DON.BRENNAN@OTT.SUNPUB.COM


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