Sens blanked by sad-sack Kings

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:56 AM ET

LOS ANGELES — The Senators might have hit rock bottom in the City of Angels Thursday night.

Facing the NHL’s worst team as this four-game Western road swing continued, the Senators came up empty for the third straight night with a 2-0 loss to the sad-sack Los Angeles Kings at the Staples Centre.

To keep this trip from being a total disaster, the Senators face a must-win tomorrow night against the Phoenix Coyotes after what turned out to be an ugly effort against the Kings.

The Senators had better hope captain Daniel Alfredsson, who missed his second straight game with back spasms, is able to return. The club is 1-8 without Alfredsson this season.

While Martin Gerber stood tall in the Ottawa net and was only beaten by Alexander Frolov — Patrick O’Sullivan scored into an empty net — the Senators made Los Angeles goalie Erik Ersberg, who picked up his first NHL win, look like the second coming of Rogie Vachon as the Kings’ rookie made 40 stops.

Ottawa poured it on in the third, but came up empty. Referee Mike Leggo was forced to go upstairs with 1:58 left in the game when the Senators thought Christoph Schubert had scored and even celebrated, but after further review it was ruled no goal.

“I said to the guys at the end of the second period that I can’t believe these are the same guys that are trying to do things,” GM/coach Bryan Murray said afteer the game. "It's disappointing to say the least. At stages, we looked good. As hard as we play, we've got to find a way to score goals."

With the start of the post-season exactly one month away, and only 13 games left in the regular schedule, the Senators have the worst record in the Eastern Conference since Jan. 1. they are 12-16-2-1 and are not showing any signs of turning around.

Making his fourth straight start and fifth in six games, Gerber was strong again, but it wasn’t enough. He made a highlight reel stop with his pad and blocker on Dustin Brown parked at the post late in the second period.

"We kind of missed the first two periods. We didn't come out the way we wanted. We kind of lost a step in the second period," said Gerber.

"I thought he was spectacular,” said Murray. “He did make saves. He has been outstanding. We're just not doing anything to help him."

In a lot of ways, Gerber has been all that’s stood in the way of making the results even worse for the Senators. The Senators gave the Kings to have a one-minute 5-on-3 with Cory Stillman and Mike Fisher off and paid the price.

The result was the opening goal by Frolov at 8:10 of the second.

Stillman was back on the ice by the time Frolov put the puck in the net, but the Kings were set up in the zone and all he had to do was take a pass in the slot to fire it by Gerber on the glove side.

Going in to the game, Murray decided to shake up the roster even without Alfredsson. Veteran Dean McAmmond, who has struggled on the fourth line, was a healthy scratch for the first time this season.

After using Chris Kelly with Dany Heatley and Jason Spezza against the Sharks, Schubert moved to the club’s top line with Stillman, Fisher and Martin Lapointe. Kelly skated with Antoine Vermette and Shean Donovan.

Tough guy Brian McGrattan took McAmmond’s spot on the roster. McGrattan finally got into the action when he went toe-to-toe with L.A.’s Raitis Ivanans in the third. They battled to a draw.

There wasn’t a lot of excitement in the first, but the Senators did outplay the Kings. Perhaps, the only moment that made anybody take notice was when Ersberg lost his mask trying to duck a high slapshot by Spezza. Ersberg looked a little dazed, he cleared his head and continued.

"Everybody has got the same ability. It's mostly mental, playing the way you have to play," said defenceman Chris Phillips. "It's disappointing. You think you’re going in the right direction and then you lose that way."


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