Humbled in Hogtown

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 11:14 AM ET

TORONTO -- Maple Leafs 5

Senators 1

The Senators locked the dressing room doors at the Air Canada Centre and cleared the air after being embarrassed last night.

The Senators wanted to deliver a knockout punch in the final round of the Battle of Ontario, but they didn't even put up their dukes in a 5-1 loss to the Maple Leafs.

Instead of celebrating knocking the Leafs out of the playoffs, the Senators held a players-only 10-minute meeting to discuss their ugly play in the last two weeks.

"It's better we lose a game like this than have the false sense of security by not playing well and coming away with a win," said Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson.

"We just had some things we needed to talk about. We've got to play better as a team. This wasn't about trying to knock Toronto out of the playoffs, we're more focused on playing better as a team ourselves and we've got one game left to improve."

TAMPA WIN ELIMINATES LEAFS

Last night, the Senators didn't put up much of a fight as the Leafs tried to stave off elimination from the post-season party.

While the Leafs did their part, they were officially eliminated after Tampa's 3-2 victory in overtime vs. the Hurricanes -- who have a one-point lead on the Senators in the race for the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference. Both Ottawa and Carolina have one game remaining in the regular season.

"The way (the Leafs) were playing, cripes, they were kind of looking like the Edmonton Oilers of the 1980s out there and we weren't doing much," said Senators defenceman Wade Redden.

"We definitely have to have more urgency in our game. We definitely have to get better if we're going to have success in the playoffs. We have to get better. There's no question."

For a team trying to secure top spot in the East, the Senators looked terribly ordinary.

The Senators have won only three of their past 12 games and if they think can flick a switch to turn it around in the post-season they might be in for a huge surprise.

"We're not working hard enough. That's the bottom line," said Senators centre Bryan Smolinski. "(The Leafs) wanted it more than we did and we have to do a better job."

With the return of winger Martin Havlat, who missed 59 games following shoulder surgery, Murray wanted to use these final two games as tune-ups.

But all last night's game did was raise more questions.

ALFIE EARNS 100TH POINT

The line of Jason Spezza, Alfredsson and Dany Heatley scored the club's only goal. Alfredsson set up Heatley's 49th goal of the season to earn his 100th point of the campaign and join Heatley in the century club.

Havlat, who played on a line with Peter Schaefer and Bryan Smolinski, showed flashes of speed, but it's obvious he's nowhere near having his timing back.

Meanwhile, goalie Ray Emery was beaten for four goals in the second period, as he dropped his fifth straight decision.

With the status of No. 1 goalie Dominik Hasek unknown and Emery nursing a hip injury, Ottawa's goaltending is going to be called into question this week with the playoffs set to begin on Friday.

"Emery was probably our best player. He should have been one of the stars," said Murray.

Leafs coach Pat Quinn was disappointed to learn only minutes after Toronto's victory that the club had missed the playoffs for the first time since 1998.

"We were the makers of our own destiny. I'm disappointed because we worked hard and I'm proud of the effort," said Quinn.

BRUCE.GARRIOCH@OTT.SUNPUB.COM


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