Sens missing a third of their game

CHRIS STEVENSON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:55 AM ET

First things first.

Give the Maple Leafs some credit for coming back on the Senators Saturday night.

The Buds forced the Senators to cough up a 3-1 lead in the third period.

Full marks for that.

"Give them credit," said Senators winger Dany Heatley, who looked like he had scored the backbreaker when he potted his 42nd goal of the year -- short-handed -- with 55 seconds left in the second period.

"When the crowd got into it, they came at us and forechecked our 'D' good."

Okay, so the Leafs were desperate, fine.

"They forced us a lot and we got back on our heels," said Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson, who scored the Senators' first goal and set up Mike Fisher for the second.

From here on, you can probably assume teams trying to make the playoffs are going to "come at" the Senators on a regular basis.

Teams trying to make the playoffs are going to "force them a lot?"

For sure.

That's how teams get in the playoffs.

That's how they plan on staying there.

So, get used to it.

After blowing third-period leads in four of their last five games now, the Senators can expect teams to come at them now.

More, not less.

If the Senators don't, it's going to be a long summer singing the praises of the team that eliminates them, talking about how the other guys "came at them," and "forced them a lot."

The Senators were outplayed for long stretches Saturday night, but goaltender Ray Emery was sharp as the Senators were outshot 45-22.

"Obviously, we were not skating well," said Senators GM John Muckler. "They came at us all night long. Rayzor was great, but you could see that coming for a long time. The key to holding the lead is skating. Look at how we played the other night in Ottawa (5-1 win over the Leafs). We were skating and moving the puck.

"Our forecheck was non-existent (Saturday night). You can't win if you don't forecheck. Our team is built on that, skating, moving the puck. We didn't do those things.

"When you don't do those things, you put a lot of pressure on your defence."

Things weren't helped back there by the loss of Anton Volchenkov, who left the game after three shifts and 90 seconds of playing time with a broken nose. Part of the Senators' shutdown duo with Chris Phillips, he was replaced by Christoph Schubert, who was playing forward and might be a little rusty on the blue line.

He jumped up in the neutral zone on what turned out to be the tying goal, knocking down Alex Ponikarovsky. The puck was under them. Those Senators not standing still were turning and heading up the ice (Jason Spezza, Heatley and Dean McAmmond was the line on the ice), sensing a chance to attack.

That's the kind of mind-set they need to shake.

The Leafs poured on the forecheck and the Senators couldn't establish one of their own to level the ice.

Senators coach Bryan Murray also shortened his bench again Saturday night.

For the second straight game, forward Oleg Saprykin, picked up by Muckler at the trade deadline, didn't see the ice in the third period. He played only four minutes and 54 seconds on the night.

Mike Comrie started the game playing with Heatley and Spezza, but he wound up playing only 8:53 -- and 5:10 of that was in the first period. Comrie took a tripping penalty behind the Toronto net at 14:58 of the second period and didn't see the ice much after that.

With Volchenkov out and Schubert back on the blue line, that means the Senators basically played two-thirds of the game with only nine forwards.

Did that have anything to do with another third-period collapse?

"Our defence didn't move the puck. That was the biggest problem, not fatigue," said Murray. "They were on top of us the whole game. We had lots of chances to move the puck and normally we're really good. It was partly because of their play. They got on us and we were tentative."

HEAR AND THERE: How about the effort by Leafs captain Mats Sundin Saturday night? He had no shots at all against the Senators in the loss Thursday night. He had 11 against Ottawa on Saturday. His previous single-game high this year was eight. He also had two assists ... With Volchenkov out, Phillips wound up playing 27:22, a single-game high for him this season ... Sophomore D Andrej Meszaros has had his struggles this season, but he was the only Senator who was plus-2 Saturday. That was his first plus-2 game since Jan. 16 ... Heatley's goal extended his scoring streak to 14 games (11 goals, 10 assists). Spezza has points in his last 12 games (seven goals, 16 assists).


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