Sens fail to fly at ACC

BRUCE GARRIOCH, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:36 AM ET

TORONTO -- Wasn't it supposed to the Maple Leafs who were going to lead the charge for John Tavares?

The Senators turned in another sad-sack effort last night, dropping a 3-2 decision to the Leafs at the ACC, one night after a mostly lifeless 4-3 loss to the Ducks.

Ottawa, which trails Toronto by four points in the Northeast Division standings, sits only a point ahead of the Islanders for dead last in the NHL.

Heading into the 2008-09 season, Tavares -- a star centre with the OHL's Oshawa Generals -- was considered one of the leading candidates to No. 1 overall pick in next June's NHL draft.

Ottawa opened a four-game road trip with its fourth straight loss.

It's the first time in seven years -- since Oct. 16-Oct. 23, 2001 -- that the Senators have lost four straight games in regulation and with the trip continuing tomorrow against the Sabres in Buffalo, the club had better find answers quick.

For a team that's supposed to be desperate, the Senators didn't look that way as they were outshot 38-24.

Only fourth-liners Shean Donovan and Dean McAmmond was able to score, which means the heat will be turned up on GM Bryan Murray to make changes.

"We're not happy, obviously. We're not happy at all," said Donovan. "It's just a matter of getting this ship right. It's early in the season, but we're a 10th of a way through the season and we've got to get going and everybody in the room knows that.

"We're frustrated, but we've got a tough road trip coming up here and we've got to get it right. Our record is not the way we want it to be and we've just got to get back to basics. It's simple to say. These games now are just as important as they are at the end of the season and we've just got to find a way to get going."

FOURTH LINE BEST

Perhaps the most damning evidence about Ottawa's performance was coach Craig Hartsburg's assessment that his fourth line of Donovan, McAmmond and Jarkko Ruutu was the team's best.

"It's certainly not right, really. Those three guys played their hearts out all night. We didn't generate a whole lot from anybody else," said Hartsburg.

With the Senators' offence struggling, Hartsburg reunited the line of Jason Spezza, Daniel Alfredsson and Dany Heatley, but the trio wasn't able to get anything going.

"We've just got to stick with it," said Alfredsson. "We mix very good efforts with not so good. We spend a lot of time in our own end and it's tough to get anything going. We've just got to keep with it.

"I can't (explain the starts). We spend a lot of time talking about it. I don't know if we're trying too hard, but our effort is just not good enough and we've just got to find a way to turn this around as quick as we can."

Goalie Alex Auld, who was making his second straight start after Martin Gerber suffered a leg injury in Friday's morning skate, couldn't be blamed for the team's latest brutal effort.

"We've seen games where we have a couple of guys who have good efforts, but we need efforts from everybody," said Auld. "There's been a lot of talking, but we definitely have to start delivering a little more."


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