Alex up to Auld tricks

BRUCE GARRIOCH, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:05 AM ET

NEW YORK -- The Senators hopefuls took their act to Broadway last night and put on a pretty flat performance.

While goaltender Alex Auld was strong in his debut by making 28 saves in the two periods he worked, the Senators didn't have a whole lot else to write home about in a 2-1 loss to the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden.

With more cuts expected to be made today after two exhibition games, Senators GM Bryan Murray and coach Craig Hartsburg were hoping to see some players fight for their NHL lives. But few answered the bell.

Only veteran Dean McAmmond, who is battling for his job on the club's fourth line, was able to score for the Senators. He broke the shutout bid by the Rangers at 9:40 of the third when he beat rookie Matt Zaba on the glove side.

DYNAMIC DUO

While the Senators worked hard, Murray and Hartsburg didn't exactly bring a lineup that had a whole lot of scoring punch, with the dynamic duo of Dany Heatley and Jason Spezza left at home along with captain Daniel Alfredsson.

"It was tough. We worked hard, but it's a matter of doing the right things," said winger Antoine Vermette, who wore an 'A' on his jersey. "We found ourselves running around a bit. In the third, we were a little smarter with our effort. It's not a great feeling, even if it's pre-season."

Signed to a two-year, $2- million US deal July 1, Auld, 27, who finished last season with the Boston Bruins, had a solid start and was only beaten by Petr Nedved and Lori Korpikoski.

Nedved, 36, who is on a free agent tryout with New York and is attempting a fourth career stint with the Rangers, opened the scoring at 5:17 of the first when he broke past defenceman Chris Phillips and beat Auld through the five hole.

Auld was solid until the Rangers extended their lead to 2-0 at 19:34 of the second. Korpikoski tipped defenceman Dan Girardi's shot by Auld on the 30th shot he faced. Jeff Glass took over in the third period and was solid.

"It's a lot of work. Thirty shots through two periods is a lot, but I felt good," said Auld. "It's nice to have a lot of work when you haven't played in a few months. It's just another step toward the start of the year."

Auld, who had the best save percentage in the NHL last season (.960), successfully faced five power plays by the Rangers.

The Senators wanted to use this tune-up game to see where the likes of Cody Bass, Nick Foligno, Ilya Zubov, Peter Regin, Ryan Shannon, Brad Isbister, and defencemen Brendan Bell and Brian Lee are going to fit in.

"We didn't bring a team of scorers and skilled guys. We brought some guys that are going to play more of a defensive mindset on our team," said Hartsburg.

"For two periods, they may have looked around and saw no Spezza and no Heatley and no Alfredsson. They thought they had to go out and change the game. The third period, they started to play like what their roles will be -- like checkers and workers.

"We created more stuff. That's a positive. Our defensive mindset has to improve."


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