Stink, stank, stunk

BRUCE GARRIOCH, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 7:58 AM ET

Even Eugene Melnyk had to be plugging his nose last night. That's how badly the Senators stunk.

After spending the day at CFB Petawawa, showing his support to the troops and Team Canada, the Senators owner couldn't have been happy with what he witnessed at Scotiabank Place -- an ugly 4-1 loss to the Atlanta Thrashers.

Atlanta goalie Ondrej Pavelec made 28 stops as Ottawa was held to two goals or less for the 18th time in 28 games. Centre Chris Kelly ruined Pavelec's shutout bid with only 1:19 left in the game.

The Senators, the NHL's lowest-scoring team, heard boos in the third as the likes of Jason Spezza, Dany Heatley, Daniel Alfredsson, Mike Fisher and Antoine Vermette couldn't generate any offence.

"It was a step back. It was an awful step back," said Hartsburg. "We didn't play with the desperation right from the start and we didn't have it all night.

"It's frustrating, disappointing. You can't hide it or try to disguise it, it was poor. There were some guys like (Chris) Neil and (Jarkko) Ruutu that tried to do something about the game. We didn't have enough.

"We didn't pass the puck. You've got to be able to pass the puck to play in the NHL. Tonight, we never made one good pass."

This one unravelled pretty quickly on the Senators in the third period. Colby Armstrong broke open a 1-0 game, scoring twice in a span of 31 seconds.

"They are not a top team ... we should be better against those guys," said Fisher. "They are not a team you should take lightly, but we've got to be better. It's frustrating to know what type of team we can be and we're not every night."

Neil nailed Atlanta centre Bryan Little with a punishing open-ice hit in the neutral zone with 1:42 left in the second. The hit left Little lying on the ice and he had to be helped to the bench after the play was whistled down.

While Thrashers' coach John Anderson sent out Eric Boulton to challenge Neil on the next shift, it was Ruutu who fought Jim Slater. Ruutu landed a lot of rights.

'IT'S FRUSTRATING'

"It's frustrating. We're a better team than our record shows," said Neil. "I was just trying to get some emotion in the game. We've been lacking enough of that."

As the Senators have on so many nights this year, they made the opposing goaltender look like an all-star.

"We weren't good enough," said Heatley. "You guys are going to break down, however you break it down. You come up with something new every day. The bottom line is we're not getting wins."

The power play continued to have problems, going 0-for-4. The Senators went long stretches without getting any chances.

"We're losing battles. There's a lot of little things that add up to not a very good game," said defenceman Chris Phillips. "We're frustrated and disappointed. It's the same all over again. When you are inconsistent, it's tough to evaluate where you are at. It's hard to erase it, but we've got to see how we respond to this."

"I think we're better than our record shows," said Atlanta coach John Anderson. "We've had a few bad breaks along the way."

Unfortunately, the Senators can't say the same.


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