Sens shut down Ovechkin

DON BRENNAN -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:07 AM ET

WASHINGTON -- The Senators figured out a way to silence Alex Ovechkin yesterday. Next time, they better come up with a plan to also contain Boyd Gordon.

A 24-year-old who entered the day with 10 goals in 161 NHL games, Gordon had his second and third of the season against an Ottawa team that turned in its second straight abysmal performance.

The result was a 6-3 loss -- their second defeat in four days -- to the lowly Capitals at Verizon Center.

The Senators have just one more game against the Capitals and for that they should be thankful. Washington owns them this season, winning all three games by a combined score of 18-10.

"We did a good job shutting down Ovechkin," Daniel Alfredsson said of the Caps superstar, who had five goals in the first two games against the Senators, but only two assists yesterday. "It's all we talked about before.

"We can't put 60 minutes together now, it looks like. Mentally. We break down at a certain time in the game, and when we do, the puck ends up in our net easier than before."

Yesterday, that certain time was the first period.

The Senators started off like gangbusters. Chris Neil and Dean McAmmond scored on spectacular individual rushes 2:52 apart, giving Ottawa a 2-0 lead before the game was five minutes old. And then, just like that, they fell apart.

Their best forward line -- Dany Heatley, Jason Spezza and Alfredsson -- was horrible at both ends of the ice.

It was the first time in 11 games that one of them didn't produce a goal.

Their best defenceman, Chris Phillips, took a couple of first-period penalties and struggled as well.

Generally speaking, the rest of the Senators were also very bad as the Caps scored five unanswered goals before the second period had ended.

Martin Gerber, who was 27-6-3 in the calendar year of 2007, didn't last long in his first game of 2008.

Gerber was replaced by Ray Emery 7:34 into the first after giving up three goals on eight shots. Only one could be pinned solely on him: A Michael Nylander shot into an open side when Gerber had no clue the puck was sitting beside him after he stopped a simple point shot.

Coach John Paddock saw enough after Washington's next goal, a Mike Green solo rush that made him look like an obvious all-star selection.

"I don't know what (Andrej) Meszaros was doing on that goal," Paddock said of his blue-liner, elevated to Top 2 status while Anton Volchenkov recovers from injury. "I have no idea. We had to make a change then. They had scored 10 goals on (Gerber) in 66 minutes or whatever. We had to make a change.

Emery gave up two goals on 17 shots.

"We got off to a great start, then some players made some bad plays on routine things, and all of a sudden they had the lead back," said Paddock.

"I thought the turning point was the 4-on-4 goals," he added of Washington's third and fourth scores.

Meszaros scored his sixth of the season 70 seconds into the third period, prompting some hope for a comeback on the Senators bench. But the Senators didn't come closer.

"I think they have some guys who can score goals, and when we don't play on the defensive side of the puck they're going to get their chances," McAmmond said.

"This is our Boston last year," he added of the struggles his team is having against the Caps. "I guess it's a team that just frustrates us, keeps it simple and capitalizes on its chances."

Paddock pulled back a scheduled day off for the players following their 8-6 loss to the Capitals Saturday.

Asked after the game if they would be practising today, Paddock said: "As of now we are."

The Senators are in Buffalo to take on the Sabres Friday.


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