Heat's back on Sens after loss to Devils

CHRIS STEVENSON, OTTAWA SUN

, Last Updated: 4:08 PM ET

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J -- Was that enough?

The Senators made a game of it last night against the New Jersey Devils, but their third-period rally came up short in a 3-2 loss at Continental Airlines Arena.

It was the Senators' eighth loss in their last 10 games and their record fell to 7-11-1, last in the Northeast Division, and, really, that's what it's all about.

Goals by Chris Neil and Daniel Alfredsson in the third period, which made it 3-2, can't erase the fact this was another night in which the Senators came up far short of playing a full and complete game.

The vote of confidence card has been played by the owner.

What now?

The first-place Buffalo Sabres visit Scotiabank Place tonight (7 p.m., CBC).

All the good vibes and the little bit of breathing room the Senators created for themselves with their win over the Sabres on Wednesday night evaporated quickly last night as they fell behind less than three minutes into the game and 2-0 after the first period.

The win over the Sabres was good and all, but it was only going to be validated by another first-class, full effort against the Devils.

They didn't deliver.

With Senators owner Eugene Melnyk giving his management people a vote of confidence Thursday, it seems inevitable now a trade of some sort will be made if wins aren't forthcoming against the Sabres tonight and the Minnesota Wild on Monday.

Melnyk made it clear he has confidence in his hockey people to identify his club's problems and correct them. He gave them the green light to act and the results are giving GM John Muckler little option but to do just that.

If nobody is getting fired, then the next step is moving somebody from the playing ranks.

That's the typical blueprint when underachieving teams like the Senators seem unable to pull themselves out of their funk.

The Senators need more grit. They are a soft team right now, easy to play against, despite enforcer Brian McGrattan trying to exhort his teammates with a thumping of regular dance partner Cam Janssen in the first period.

They are losing too many battles and are too late to pucks, too often.

But coach Bryan Murray didn't think the problem was a lack of effort.

"I think they tried real hard," he said. "They almost over-tried. They were trying plays that weren't always there and then coming back, you look bad. The word patience comes into play.

"We tried to make up two goals in a hurry and that always works against you."

Still, the Senators were outhustled and exploited by the Devils' line of Jamie Langenbrunner, Zach Parise and Travis Zajac, which accounted for the Devils' three goals.

Parise pushed Ottawa defenceman Tom Preissing off the puck to start the sequence that led to that first goal, then Parise angled a pass back through his legs to Langenbrunner who was alone in front of Senators goaltender Ray Emery, who played well and came up with some big saves later in the game.

The Devils added a power-play goal by Langenbrunner with less than a minute to go in the first and then, after a couple of big saves from Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur when it was 2-0, capitalized on a turnover by Alfredsson at his own blueline to make it 3-0 seven minutes into the second.

The Devils had blown a 2-0 lead Tuesday night against the New York Rangers, giving up three goals in 90 seconds to lose 3-2, so you knew it was very unlikely that was going to happen again.

The Senators had trouble creating much in the way offence and when they did, they were a bit unlucky. A minute after Langenbrunner opened the scoring, a tip by Ottawa's Antoine Vermette went off the post.

Defenceman Anton Volchenkov lost his stick and was unable to defend in front on Langenbrunner's second.

"I thought we played a pretty good first period and deserved a better fate than to be down 2-0" said Senators centre Jason Spezza. "They don't give up much and Marty made some big saves when he had to. We hit a couple of posts and got a little frustrated. That's what they do to you, they know how to play with a lead.

"I think we're making progress. We're doing the little things and not giving up much."


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