Sens step it up a notch

BRUCE GARRIOCH, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:44 AM ET

NEW YORK -- Not even a reunion could save the Senators last night.

After reuniting the big line of Jason Spezza, Dany Heatley and Daniel Alfredsson, the Senators still came up short in a 2-1 shootout loss to the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden.

The Senators' losing skid is now five games. And even worse, they could be without Mike Fisher for awhile.

While Alfredsson ended a 10-game goal-less streak, dating back to Oct. 24, the Senators weren't able to capitalize on a strong performance from goalie Alex Auld.

Rangers winger Nikolai Zherdev scored what turned out to be the winner to open the shootout. While Auld stopped Chris Drury and Frederik Sjostrom, Jason Spezza, Jarkko Ruutu and Antoine Vermette couldn't put the puck past Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist.

Sens coach Craig Hartsburg was happy with the effort.

"I'm proud of every one of our guys," said Hartsburg. "We played a heck of a game. We played fierce. We checked. We played better without the puck. We competed for 65 minutes. Now we have to go home and continue it."

Fisher had to be helped off the ice in the second period with what appeared to be a knee injury after he got tangled up with Marc Staal and Nigel Dawes trying to get into the New York zone. He didn't go down, but was limping as he made his way to the dressing room. Already without winger Chris Neil, who will have the extent of his right knee injury evaluated today in Ottawa, the Senators can't afford to lose bodies.

While all the pre-game talk surrounded the decision to reunite Alfredsson, Spezza and Heatley, it was Auld, playing his 11th game in the last 12, who gave the Senators a chance.

INDIVIDUAL EFFORT

While Alfredsson had familiar linemates, it was a great individual effort by the captain that resulted in the opening goal for the Senators. After fighting off Rangers defenceman Michal Roszival along the boards, Alfredsson moved into the slot and beat Lundqvist on the stick side at 16:13 of the second.

"We've got to keep battling. It's not going to come easy," said Alfredsson. "We're going to have to put our work boots on every day and it's going to come sooner or later.

"It's tough to lose. You play well and think you should win. You can't feel sorry for yourself. The last two games are a step for us."

Ruutu remained on the ice after the game to speak with the officials.

"Somebody swung a stick from their bench and nearly hit me in the eye. I don't know who it was," said Ruutu. "I wanted to make sure they knew about it. I don't think that's allowed."

The Senators face the Montreal Canadiens at home Thursday.


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