PHILADELPHIA -- Twas the nightmare before Christmas.
And unfortunately for the Senators, this nightmare seems to be a recurring spookfest that sees them spiralling further away from a playoff spot.
The Senators lost their 10th straight road game as a third-period rally fell short. Simon Gagne scored the winner with 5:30 left in the third to give the Flyers a 6-4 victory last night.
"I made a bad read on the last goal," said captain Daniel Alfredsson, who gave the puck away on Gagne's goal. "It's tough when we fight back like we did. I've got to make a better play. We need points and we needed that point."
Alex Auld lost his fourth straight start and has allowed four or more goals in all of those games.
"The win would have been nice. We showed a lot of character coming back. We just weren't able to get it done," said Auld.
"We showed some effort, desperation and character, but we just gave it right back to them. We just gave it to them. We needed the point," said Senators coach Craig Hartsburg.
"We're getting some goals, which is good, but we're not playing very good defensively. We lost way too many battles in the first two periods."
The Senators, already without defenceman Filip Kuba (groin) for an indefinite period, lost blueliner Anton Volchenkov only 48 seconds into the first period. After hitting the boards at full speed when he fell racing for the puck, he had to be helped off the ice and didn't return.
Starting a pivotal eight-game road trip that will go a long way in deciding the season and trailing 4-2 in the third, the Senators finally came to life and pushed the Flyers hard. Chris Phillips' first goal since Feb. 7, 2008 against the Florida Panthers -- a span of 58 games -- tied it at 4-4 at 10:39 of the third period.
Three minutes earlier, Dany Heatley had narrowed the gap to one. It was Heatley's second goal of the game. Nick Foligno also scored for Ottawa.
AULD NOT SHARP
It didn't help that Auld didn't have one of his better efforts. He couldn't do much when Joffrey Lupul tipped it by him on the stick side at 18:31 of the first on the power play, but there was absolutely no way that Matt Carle should have scored the opening goal for Philly at 5:01.
Carle fired a shot from the point and caught Auld going the wrong way to beat him on the stick side. The Senators have had so few leads this season, the club needs its goalie to make the easy saves.
"We're just playing well as a team right now," said Flyers' Jeff Carter. "They're tough to play against. They've got a lot of guys who can score goals. We were able to get it done."
The Senators will return to practise at the Bell Sensplex Friday and then board a plane for Calgary immediately. They will also make stops in Vancouver and Edmonton. They'll return to Ottawa to spend New Year's before hitting the road again.