Adding power to Sens' play

DON BRENNAN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:04 AM ET

ARLINGTON, VA. -- Sometimes when a situation is too good to be true, it isn't.

The Senators could have been lacing up in Washington tonight on a nice little winning streak, if only they knew how take advantage of a two-man advantage. They've had a pair of them in the past two games, for spans of 89 and 64 seconds, and haven't scored.

A 5-on-3 should almost be a gimme, especially for a team blessed with three of the NHL's top offensive players.

"I can't put my finger on anything," captain Daniel Alfredsson said, following a power-play-concentrated workout yesterday at the Capitals practice facility in Arlington, when asked about the team's struggles with a double advantage. "Today we talked about moving a little quicker, being a little faster on our passing, crisper, and don't force plays ... With a 5-on-3 you've got to be able to make a play, get a good shot off with a screen in front. Get them scrambling a little bit."

Instead, after a 4-3 overtime loss to Florida and a 2-0 defeat at the hands of the Blackhawks, the Senators are scrambling to get back to the .500 mark and still trying to escape the Northeast Division basement.

Their latest setback had a familiar ring to it.

"When you work hard bounces come your way," said winger Chris Neil. "And we obviously didn't get any bounces (Wednesday)."

The Senators will have to bring their 'A' game tonight. The Caps are 11-1-1 at the Verizon Center and are coming off a confidence-boosting 3-1 victory over the conference-leading Boston Bruins.

What's more, Washington is also starting to get healthy. Alexander Semin, who was leading the league in scoring when he was sidelined by a strained muscle in his side, returned Wednesday after missing 12 games. At the same time, defenceman Tom Poti came back from a six-game absence.

Tonight could also see the return of defenceman Mike Green, who's missed 11 games with a shoulder injury, and veteran Sergei Fedorov.

Despite missing as many as 10 regulars at times, the Capitals have managed to win five of their past eight games.

"We beat teams without them," said Ovechkin. "Now we have more weapons in our hands."

Asked about handing the Bruins just their fifth loss in 28 games, Ovechkin joked that "maybe it was luck." Coach Bruce Boudreau had a more plausible explanation.

'TOP OF YOUR GAME'

"You try to say the same things about everybody as a coach but players are smart," said Boudreau. "They know that sometimes you can get away with some things against other people, but when you play a team as talented as Boston, and Ottawa, even though their record doesn't indicate it, and Montreal, you know you have to be at the top of your game ... I think the fear of losing was intact with us (against the Bruins) and there was 60 minutes of focus from everybody."

Alex Auld will be back in net tonight, even as Martin Gerber turned in a commendable performance while stopping 28 shots in Chicago.

"I don't think this team should worry about who's in net," said Senators coach Craig Hartsburg. "I think Martin proved (Wednesday) whoever goes in we're going to have good goaltending."

Instead, the Senators should be worried about a power play that has gone 0-for-10 in the team's last three games.

"We talked in practice about moving ourselves a little more," said Alfredsson. "We got too passive, made it too easy on the penalty killers. When the games are so tight special teams often make the difference."

Hartsburg would just like to see the Senators create some momentum with the man advantage. Not only haven't they been scoring, but they really haven't been generating as many chances as they should, either.

WORK HARDER

"We've got to be a threat on it," said Hartsburg. "I think we've got the right people there. They've got to work on it now harder than ever."

Hartsburg called for his players to give the same effort being put in by Mike Fisher.

"Not everybody is going to play like Mike Fisher," said Hartsburg. "But they can have that whatever-it-takes attitude. The intensity, the emotion and the passion that Mike Fisher brings to the game is what we want everybody to be like."

Fisher, meanwhile, remains stuck at three goals on the season. His inability to get his fourth hasn't been for lack of trying. Fisher has had 16 shots in the last two games and 26 since he last scored.

Asked if he's considered a trick once used by former Senator Bruce Gardiner, who tried to drown his bad luck by sticking his stick in a toilet bowl, Fisher allowed himself a laugh

"No," he said, "but I'm willing to look at anything right now.

"There's guys that aren't scoring, and playing the way we can, but the key for us is that we get everyone competing every night. That's how we're going to win, regardless of who's scoring and who's not."


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