More misery for Meszaros

DON BRENNAN

, Last Updated: 8:28 AM ET

The minuses continued to pile up on Andrej Meszaros yesterday.

And the guilt of one in particular weighed heavily on him following the Senators' 3-2 loss to the New Jersey Devils.

"I (bleeped) up," the second-year defenceman said of his part in what turned out to be the winning goal by Brian Gionta with 3:33 to go in the game.

Meszaros, who finished tied for third overall in the NHL last season with a plus-34, wound up a minus-3 against the Devils, leaving him once again standing alone with a team-worst minus-14.

On the decisive goal, his attempt to clear the puck off the boards in the defensive zone was intercepted by Patrik Elias, who quickly fed Scott Gomez for a 2-on-1 with Gionta against Meszaros. No one was around to cover Gionta.

The goal became even bigger when Tom Preissing finished off a strong drive to the net by Chris Kelly with a shot past Martin Brodeur 1:51 later.

"I didn't really want to skate with the puck in our own zone," said Meszaros, who was then asked what he would do if he could rewind time. "That would be my choice, if I could turn it back. Or chip it off the glass."

Why, you may ask, were Meszaros and Joe Corvo on the ice together in that situation? Corvo, who has a team second-worst minus-11, and they don't usually play together, looked like he was trapped in quicksand after the Meszaros turnover. The two don't usually play together.

"I'm not sure (why)," coach Bryan Murray said when asked the question. "We were trying to get guys with shots and offensive skills out there, more than any other reason."

Teams have to take chances when playing a team like the Devils, who don't make many mistakes when protecting a lead and rely on Brodeur to bail them out when they do.

The Senators took such a chance yesterday, putting Meszaros and Corvo on the ice together in a time when things aren't going well for either player defensively.

It backfired.

STARTS AND STOPS: On Wild-card Saturday, Chris Phillips made a fine screen pass to Chris Neil in the Ottawa end during the first period. Problem was, it was his stick that Phillips threw, providing Neil with a replacement for the one he had just busted. For his efforts, No. 4 was given two minutes by the ref. "I had no idea," Phillips said when asked if he was aware it's just as illegal to throw a stick to a teammate as it is at an opponent on a breakaway. "Now I do." ... Brodeur is impressed with the way Ray Emery is playing. "I like him," said Marty, who compared the style of the Ottawa 'tender to his own and that of Dominik Hasek. "He's an athletic goaltender and you don't see too much of that type of goaltender, with all the butterfly guys who just drop to their knees. He's a fierce competitor from what I've seen. When you have a horse like that, you should run with him. That's not taking anything away from (Martin) Gerber." ... Gerber will be playing today against the Flyers, Murray confirmed (sort of) when being interviewed BY The Team 1200's Lee Versage. "You just told me Martin Gerber is starting, so I guess that's who is starting." So blame Lee if Gerber is still looking for his first win as a Senator at The Bank come 6 p.m.

BETWEEN PERIODS: Playing his first NHL game was Mark Fraser, who was called up by the Devils yesterday. Fraser, 20, was born and raised in Blackburn Hamlet and his father Hugh is a provincial court judge. A stay-at-home defenceman who had no goals and 13 assists in 117 games as a Kitchener Ranger, Fraser said he was more nervous in the third period -- and the possibility of making a mistake that would cost New Jersey its lead -- than he was in the first. "(At one point) I lined up against (Daniel Alfredsson) and I was trying not to smile," he said. "It was a big thrill. I don't know how well he'd remember me, but we worked out together in the summer." Fraser, who had not previously practised or taken part in a morning skate with the Devils, had eight shifts for a total of 6:07 of ice time. He was booed by the Ottawa fans in the second for roughing up Patrick Eaves behind the net.


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