'I can take criticism'

CHRIS STEVENSON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 1:28 PM ET

STOCKHOLM -- With all the personnel changes, the new look behind the bench, the talk about a fresh, harsher attitude and even with opening the season in Europe, it all looks so much the same today, huh?

A turnover by Jason Spezza late in overtime.

Suspect goaltending by Martin Gerber.

They cost the Senators a game they should have won yesterday. Instead, despite leading going into the third, they lost 4-3 in overtime to the Pittsburgh Penguins in the season opener for both clubs at the Globe Arena.

"I was just trying to win the hockey game and sometimes I get a little carried away and try to do it all myself," said Spezza, who tried to stickhandle by Pittsburgh's Tyler Kennedy at the Penguins blue line with about 30 seconds to go in overtime.

Kennedy stole the puck, skated into the Ottawa zone and his shot found a hole in Gerber -- something that happened often last night. It was Kennedy's second goal of the game, the first coming just 40 seconds into the game.

"I'm a big boy and I can take criticism. I'll learn from it. I was just trying to win the hockey game. I think I'm becoming more of a mature of a player. I'll recover from stuff like that," said Spezza. "You have the lead in the third period and you'd like to come away with the win. I thought we did some good things, but obviously we're not happy with the result."

The Senators will have another go at the Penguins today and don't be surprised if Alex Auld gets the start in the Ottawa net. There was already some discussion among the Ottawa coaching staff that today might be a good spot to get him a game. Gerber's sub-par performance last night might be enough to sway things Auld's way for today.

Gerber looked suspect on Kennedy's first goal of the night just 40 seconds into the game and had a shot by Penguins defenceman Rob Scuderi from the left-wing circle beat him under the arm to tie the game 3-3 early in the third.

Leading 3-2 on goals by Shean Donovan, Dany Heatley and Spezza, the Senators had a great chance to take control of the game with a 5-on-3 for more than a minute to start the third, but couldn't cash in. They paid for it shortly after when Scuderi beat Gerber with an average shot from the circle that appeared to slip between Gerber's left arm and his body at 3:56 to tie it.

"We had a 5-on-3 early in the third to kill the game there. We couldn't make any sharp passes, the puck was bouncing a little bit for us and we almost gave up a couple of chances against us. That was a good chance for us to put the game away," said Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson. "You can analyze all the losses anyway you want.

"It's always frustrating when you lose when you're one goal ahead going into the third period. We'll regroup. I thought we worked really hard (yesterday). We did a lot of good things to put ourselves in a good position. We'll regroup and have an even better effort (today)."

Was Spezza to blame for the loss?

"No. I don't think so," said Alfredsson. "I'm right there behind him kind of anticipating him to make a move. I'm covering up for him. They had a 2-on-3. I don't know if it hit something. We gave up a shot from the outside."

It was a decent game by the Senators as they battled back twice from behind to take the lead going into the third before Spezza's turnover.

"We talked to Jason. As a team, we have to protect the puck better," said Senators coach Craig Hartsburg. "We want people to challenge people with speed. Just protect the puck.

"Put the puck in an area where we can get it back rather than drag it through people.

"We played hard. We did some things well. We'll take the positives and learn you can't turn pucks over against this team."


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