Coach: 'We hate losing'

BRUCE GARRIOCH, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:04 AM ET

Dany Heatley slammed his stick as he left the ice in the dying moments of last night's game at Scotiabank Place.

He wasn't alone in his frustration. The 3-1 loss to the Panthers was tough to take, especially after Senators coach Craig Hartsburg had demanded his team work harder and then set the tone by dropping centre Jason Spezza to the second line and demoting defenceman Brian Lee to the AHL.

"We don't like to lose. We hate losing," said Hartsburg. "Just because I talk and bark for a day, it doesn't mean it's going to happen right away.

"We had a bad start and that cost us the game. We were poor in getting the puck out of pressure."

ALFIE NETS ONLY GOAL

Only captain Daniel Alfredsson, on the power play, was able to put the puck past Florida goalie Craig Anderson, who made 41 saves (including 26 in the third).

The Senators have not scored an even-strength goal in more than 112 minutes.

"It's frustrating. We wanted to get off to a good start and they got us on our heels," said Alfredsson. "Every game you lose is frustrating. We can't dwell on this game. We've just got to look forward. In spurts, we are playing well. If we just follow the plan we have, we'll be fine."

The Senators need to beat the Ducks tomorrow if they want to close out their five-game homestand with two wins.

Ottawa poured it on in the third period against the Panthers, but the errors and giveaways early in the game proved deadly.

A lot of the pre-game discussion was about the breakup of Heatley, Spezza and Alfredsson, but it took only 37 minutes for Hartsburg to put the unit together again (they had remained together on the power play).

Hartsburg went to great lengths after the morning skate to explain his decision and said Spezza and Heatley, in particular, didn't have to play together. That tune changed once Florida pulled out to a 3-1 lead on the strength of a power-play goal by former Ottawa winger Cory Stillman.

"You've got to credit them a bit," said Spezza. "We wanted to do real well and we wanted to win."

Hartsburg put Mike Fisher back in the middle in the third and the Senators pushed hard to get back into the game, but Anderson turned them aside time and again.

"I saw in the second and third periods the team we want to be," said Hartsburg. "I saw a desperate, hungry team that won a lot of battles in the third."

GERBER NOT AT BEST

Goaltender Martin Gerber was not at his best early.

The Senators are fighting confidence issues and getting down early didn't help.

The Senators' start was a disaster. While a power-play goal by Alfredsson was called back because it was tipped into the net with a high stick, the club remained down 2-0, outplayed by a wide margin.

While the Panthers have improved, it was a couple of bad errors that resulted in two goals on the first three shots of the game.

With Anton Volchenkov caught flat-footed, Nathan Horton took a pass and fired a bullet past Gerber on the top shelf at 5:33.

"For some reason, we didn't get off to a good start and we've just got to fix it," said Gerber, who believed Horton's shot deflected off a stick. "It's tough when you get down that quick. I've got to do a better job getting in front of those."

Ottawa defenceman Alex Picard could have been given an assist on the opening goal by Rostislav Olesz. Picard's blind pass attempt landed on the stick of the Panthers winger, whose shot dribbled through Gerber's legs at 4:45.


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