Senators' dive hits five

BRUCE GARRIOCH, OTTAWA SUN

, Last Updated: 9:50 AM ET

ATLANTA -- It was another wasted night on the road to nowhere for the Senators.

For the second straight game, the Senators pulled out to a two-goal lead and collapsed as the club dropped its fifth straight in a 5-4 loss to the high-flying Thrashers at Philips Arena.

Make no mistake about it, goaltending is now a major issue for the Senators because the Thrashers erased a pair of two-goal leads.

Martin Gerber can't be faulted for all the woes, but the last time Ottawa lost five straight games was in February, 1996. That also happens to be the last season Ottawa missed the playoffs.

Atlanta forward Slava Kozlov sent the Senators packing by completing a hat trick in the third to erase what was looking like a promising night after Ottawa jumped out to a 4-2 lead in the second.

Senators coach Bryan Murray made the rare move of addressing the team afterward.

"I've made a point of not talking to the team right after a game in the two years I've been here. But (last night) I did. I told them I was proud of them and the way they played. I thought we gave it a hell of an effort," said Murray.

But Murray admitted Gerber -- who was shaken up after taking a shot off the neck from Scott Mellanby -- has to come up with some big saves.

"I've never seen Gerber play like this," said Murray. "He's pressing and I know he's feeling pressure because he wants to win so bad and he's having trouble with the criticism."

Centre Jason Spezza and Chris Kelly had two-point nights with a goal and an assist, while Antoine Vermette and Daniel Alfredsson also scored for the Senators, who have blown leads in four of the five losses. The club also fell to 1-7 in one-goal games this season.

Following a 4-3 OT loss to the Capitals on Monday, Murray shook up all of the line combinations and reunited Kelly and Vermette, along with Spezza, Alfredsson and Dany Heatley.

The move paid off early in the game, but it didn't last.

After Vermette scored short-handed at 9:39 of the second to give Ottawa a 4-2 lead, Atlanta goalie Johan Hedberg was given the hook by coach Bob Hartley. He gave up four goals on 18 shots before giving way to Kari Lehtonen.

There was a moment on the power play in the first period, which has had its share of problems all season, that might have summed up Senators' season thus far.

Racing for a puck near the blue line, Joe Corvo and Wade Redden collided, which allowed Brad Larsen to skate in on a breakaway to beat Gerber through the legs at 14:22 of the first to tie it up 1-1. It was the league-high fifth short-handed goal Ottawa has allowed this season.

"It's frustrating, but we just have to find a way to win," said Alfredsson "That was one of the best games we've played this season. We've just got to keep working and we're going to have some success."


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