Home-ice woes continue; Spezza leaves rink on crutches

CHRIS STEVENSON, OTTAWA SUN

, Last Updated: 8:33 AM ET

Many people will be happily scrambling today to get home for the holidays.

The Senators will be quite satisfied to hit the road.

They lost again on home ice last night, this time 4-2 to the Tampa Bay Lightning, blowing a 2-1 third-period lead and dropping their record at Scotiabank Place to an awful 6-9.

Only two NHL teams have fewer wins at home this season, the last-place Philadelphia Flyers and the St. Louis Blues, who both have four.

The nine losses equal the Sens' total number of losses on home ice last season.

The news got worse after the game. Centre Jason Spezza, the team's leading scorer, suffered a third-period lower-body injury and left the rink on crutches, favouring his left leg. His status will be updated today.

Luckily for the Senators (maybe), they are off to face the Flyers in Philly for a game tomorrow afternoon.

Defenceman Wade Redden, back in the lineup after missing nine games with a chest-shoulder injury, wasted no time issuing a merciless assessment of Ottawa's play.

"In my time here, we've always come out with a lot of energy and skated other teams into the ice," said Redden. "It just seems like we're not working the same. It's not rocket science ...The coach has told us 20 times a day to get the puck in deep and forecheck. We tell ourselves that and we don't do it.

"After the second, it seemed like we were trying to score more goals rather than play smart and preserve the lead."

Ottawa's big duo of Spezza and Dany Heatley were a combined minus-7 on the night. Redden and partner Andrej Meszaros were each minus-3.

The Senators seemed to be in control of last night's game, up 2-1 after two periods on a power-play goal by Heatley (his 20th of the season and 150th of his NHL career) and Antoine Vermette's 13th of the season in front of a crowd of 18,603 at Scotiabank Place.

LAST IN EAST

But the Lightning struck for two goals on three shots in a five-minute span early in the third to drop the Senators back below the break-even mark at 17-18-1 and back into the Northeast Division basement.

The Boston Bruins' victory last night allowed them to jump over the Senators into fourth place in the Northeast and the B's have four games in hand.

Tampa's Ruslan Fedotenko tied the game 2-2 early in the third. After Redden stood the winger up at the blue line, Fedotenko cut into the middle where he let go a shot from 41 feet that beat Senators goaltender Ray Emery over the right shoulder.

The winner came at 8:53 off a lost faceoff in the Ottawa zone and a shot by Tampa defenceman Paul Ranger, which hit the stick of Senator Chris Neil and deflected by Emery low to the glove side. Vincent Lecavalier added an empty netter.

"We put ourselves in a good spot (up 2-1 after two). We've got to do a better job of finishing off. I've got to make some saves," said Emery. "That's a goal I normally don't let in for their second and they got a lucky one for their third."

Those goals erased some good work by the Senators' special teams, which had left something to be desired over the last few games, but helped them to that 2-1 lead through two periods last night.

After a scoreless first period, Heatley opened the scoring on a nice three-way passing play with Alfredsson and Spezza on the power play.

That lead lasted just a little more than three minutes as Tampa's Martin St-Louis scored his 23rd of the season at 5:46.

After the Senators killed off a high-sticking double-minor to Schubert, they regained the lead at 13:53 after a bad pass by St-Louis went off the boards and got behind Ranger.

Alfredsson sped away and got off a shot that winger Patrick Eaves chased down in the corner. He dished to Antoine Vermette who snapped a 28-foot slapshot over Denis' right shoulder.

Now the Senators are off on the road, where they have an 11-9-1 record.


Videos

Photos