Sens shot in the heart

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:19 AM ET

The Senators let another one slip away.

Just when it looked like they might finally pave their rocky road to the post-season, the Senators blew a 3-2 lead in the final minutes of the third period and lost 4-3 in a shootout to the Buffalo Sabres at Scotiabank Place last night.

"We can't win a damn shootout. What is that?" fumed Senators GM/coach Bryan Murray.

"At this time of year, we had a 3-2 lead we milked through the third period, if you have an opportunity to make the play and you don't do it, it always comes back to haunt you."

Derek Roy came back to haunt the Senators in the shootout by scoring the winner. That, combined with Paul Gaustad's goal with 1:26 remaining, ruined a two-goal performance by centre Mike Fisher and left the Senators short of booking a playoff spot after the Washington Capitals won 4-3 in Tampa Bay.

Fisher was more optimistic than his coach.

"Teams are fighting hard to get points at this time of year, but we're right in the thick of things," he said. "To get a point is what's big at this time of year."

Senators goaltender Martin Gerber had a solid performance, winger Antoine Vermette had two points and centre Jason Spezza also scored, but it wasn't enough.

Fisher's 23rd of the season -- a career high -- at 3:58 of the third looked like it was going to stand up as the winner. He took a feed from Vermette and redirected it by Ryan Miller on the glove side.

STILLMAN GOES DOWN

But Gaustad tied it up with only 1:26 left by picking up a rebound in front and banking it off Gerber.

The Senators lost Cory Stillman with a "lower body" injury in the second and he didn't return. He did take a hard hit from Buffalo defenceman Mike Weber in the first and was cross-checked in front of the Ottawa bench.

"He got pinned along the boards," said Murray. "It's a leg (injury)."

Andrej Meszaros also left late in the game.

While there have been questions about the club struggling with consistency, Murray made a bold promise before the puck was dropped.

"This team will be ready for the playoffs," he said.

But the Senators continue to show they have plenty of work to do before the playoffs. Gerber had to be a standout because the Sabres completely outplayed the Senators through the first 40 minutes.

Fisher, who hasn't scored a goal at Scotiabank Place since Jan. 17 (he's had three on the road in that stretch), broke his seven-game scoring slump with his 22nd of the season through Miller's five-hole at 4:17 of the second to tie it 2-2.

The Senators continued to struggle in their own zone with blind passes and bad turnovers. It was Stillman's turn to commit the sin that resulted in the tying goal by Maxim Afinogenov in the first.

"It's disappointing. We feel at this time of year, leading by one goal, you want to be on top of things," said Vermette. "We didn't get it done and it came back to bite us. Gerber played well. We should have had the two points."


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