Easy does it, Jason

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 10:04 AM ET

The message is an old one, but Jason Spezza is going to hear it one more time.

And this time, Senators coach Bryan Murray wants his talented young centre to listen to it: Quit trying to make the fancy plays and start keeping it simple.

After Ottawa ended its three-game losing streak with a 3-2 shootout victory in Montreal on Saturday night, Murray singled out Spezza for giving away a puck that resulted in the Canadiens' opening goal.

"(Spezza) looked sluggish until the middle part of the game and then he started to get it going," said Murray, who has had this discussion about Spezza in the past. "He's certainly a priority player for us. I think what happens so often -- and I keep saying this -- he just tries to make something out of nothing.

"Instead of just trying to chip the puck in like all the other lines do and battle in the corners, we try to stickhandle, make a play, make it through two or three sticks ... against good teams that just doesn't work."

While the Senators got back on track with a victory, they did it without any production from their top trio of Spezza, captain Daniel Alfredsson and winger Dany Heatley.

Their production through five games continues to be below par:

- Spezza, two goals and no assists;

- Alfredsson, one goal and two assists;

- Heatley, no goals and four assists.

Murray needs that to change, but these are the guys he's depending on to lead this team offensively.

"They weren't very good at times in (Saturday's) game," said Murray, who gave the players yesterday off with three days to prepare for a visit by Colorado Thursday. "We have some time now. We have to get everybody working at the same level.

"They've got to (play better). They looked sluggish early in the game. I don't know if they were uptight and they knew the pressure was on, or what.

It spoke volumes when Murray ignored his top guns and rolled the dice with Antoine Vermette, Dean McAmmond and Mike Fisher in the shootout. Denis Hamel and Chris Kelly scored in regulation to get the Senators to OT in the first place.

"The guys we don't expect to score goals did it for us at a very important time. The big guys aren't going, so we need other guys to step up," said Murray.

The power play, which has been blanked in four straight games, also needs serious attention. The Senators are a horrible 1-for-30 this season, with the only goal coming in a victory over Toronto in the season opener.

"I don't know what it is," said Alfredsson, who was moved back to the point against the Habs, but won't appear there Thursday against Colorado.

"Everybody is anxious. We have a lot of talented players on this team and I don't know if on the power play sometimes, we're just standing still too much and not getting the job done. We have to quit trying to make the set play. We've got to shoot the puck and try to get some traffic in front for the rebounds."

Murray said he thought the club did a better job in that area against the Habs, but it wasn't good enough.

"We'll spend more time on the power play (this week)," said Murray. "We'll try to get these people shooting the puck more often. We were at least shooting the puck and getting some traffic in front, but I still think we're overpassing the puck far too often."


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