'Got to be better'

BRUCE GARRIOCH, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:49 AM ET

NEWARK, N.J. -- Craig Hartsburg tried to pull a rabbit out of a hat -- and ended up with another dog.

All the Senators' coach can do now is go back to the drawing board. He'd better do it quick; just when you thought it couldn't get any worse, it did in an ugly 5-1 loss to the Devils last night.

Only Jarkko Ruutu scored for the Senators, who dropped their ninth straight on the road, just as they opened a stretch of 9-of-10 games away from Scotiabank Place.

Hartsburg's big line changes didn't spark the league's lowest-scoring team (68 goals through 30 games), although Dany Heatley did play better with Chris Kelly and Nick Foligno.

"It's about the attitude and continuing to work for everything we get," said Hartsburg. "We can't accept it. We've got to keep pushing. Everybody. We've got to be better (tonight vs. the Stars at home)."

Playing on the third line for part of the night with Ruutu and Chris Neil (until he missed a long stretch following a first-period fight), centre Jason Spezza wasn't much better.

Captain Daniel Alfredsson, Mike Fisher and Antoine Vermette were also blanked.

START WINNING NOW

"We can't afford to lose. We're definitely in a position where we know we have to win," said Alfredsson. "We know if we are going to make the playoffs, we have to start winning.

"We've got a lot of games on the road coming up here. We can't worry about too much down the road. We gotta get back on track. To do that we've got to stay positive."

And not "feel sorry" for themselves.

"We didn't have a very good start. We got some in the second. They got some bounces and we came out in the third but couldn't get it done," said goalie Alex Auld, who stopped 20-of-25 shots. "We can't feel sorry for ourselves."

"There's no time to feel sorry for ourselves," added Alfredsson. "We've got to play better right away."

Auld wasn't to blame for the loss, but he was beaten on the first shot and didn't make many big stops.

The Senators were down 3-1 going into the third as a result of a late second-period goal by Patrik Elias, who had a four-point night, as did Zach Parise.

On the power play, Elias picked up a rebound in front and beat Auld on the stick side with 54 seconds left in the second, virtually dashing the Senators' hopes.

Ruutu's goal was his first in 24 games, but it didn't come with Spezza on the ice. Shorthanded, Ruutu took a pass from Kelly and beat Scott Clemmensen with a wrist shot for his third of the season.

Hartsburg also changed the power-play units, putting Brendan Bell on the point with Filip Kuba, while Christoph Schubert was on the second unit. That didn't work, either.


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