No 'push' from Sens

Brandon Dubinsky (centre) celebrates his game-winning goal with Rangers teammates as Sens goalie...

Brandon Dubinsky (centre) celebrates his game-winning goal with Rangers teammates as Sens goalie Brian Elliott skates away. (BLAIR GABLE/Reuters)

CHRIS STEVENSON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:02 AM ET

Has there ever been a goaltender who's asked to go back to the minors?

Back to Binghamton?

Rookie goalie Brian Elliott kept up his end of the bargain last night against the Rangers, but got nothing in the way of support from his teammates in their 2-0 loss at Scotiabank Place, another desperately needed two points vapourized by an empty offensive effort.

Life was treating Elliott pretty good in Bingo, where he's having a great year in the AHL (with a league-leading 18 wins and was named an all-star starter).

Elliott was called up Friday to spark the Senators. It didn't work.

"The whole load doesn't fall on the goaltenders, but we need saves, some big saves," coach Craig Hartsburg was saying yesterday morning.

Elliott came up with a big one in the first minute of the third period with the Senators down 1-0 on a first-period goal by Brandon Dubinsky.

The puck bounced by Senators defenceman Filip Kuba, who fished at it with his stick as Ranger Petr Prucha, a thorn in the Senators' side all night, burst by.

Prucha skated in alone, but Elliott blocked his shot. It was a big stop. Down by a goal with 19 minutes to go is a lot better than down by two, right?

Not that it did much good in terms of inspiring his teammates, who came up empty.

TOO MUCH LEE-WAY

Four minutes later, rookie defenceman Brian Lee was turned inside out by slick Rangers forward Nikolai Zherdev, who fed Lauri Korpikoski and the Finnish rookie, the Rangers' first-round pick (19th overall) in 2004, potted his second of the season on a bang-bang play. He also assisted on Dubinsky's goal and earned first-star honours.

"I thought we took the game over in the second and played well in the third, but they got a great individual effort by Zherdev to give them a cushion," said Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson. "We didn't have that push in the third."

The Senators were roundly booed by the Scotiabank Place crowd during another fizzling power play with three minutes left in the third period.

"It's frustrating, no doubt about it," said forward Antoine Vermette, whose effort has been noticeable lately. "We have good intentions and the guys try hard, but we don't get it done."

It was a slightly different atmosphere in The Bank from a week earlier, when some of those same fans were cheering Jordan Eberle's last-second goal to send Team Canada on to a thrilling semi-final win over Russia at the world junior championship.

Last night, "I thought it was an even game. We just couldn't score," said Hartsburg, whose team outshot the Rangers 33-27, but saw goaltender Henrik Lundqvist pick up his second shutout of the season and the 18th of his career.

Meanwhile, Elliott's status with the Senators is day-to-day. "I tried my hardest," he said. "Hopefully we can get on a winning streak here."

Hockey is a team game, but it comes down to the individual battles, one of which was won by the Rangers to take a 1-0 lead with about five minutes to go in the first.

So, the question the Senators' coaching staff is asking themselves (among others), is how does the 175-lb. Prucha come out of the corner with the puck against Kuba and centre Mike Fisher, who are a combined 439 lbs.?

Did we mention Prucha was on his knees for much of the engagement and still managed to keep control of the puck?

The puck went from the corner to Elliott's right, out to the front of the net, where the Rangers got a couple of whacks at it before Dubinsky, standing untouched off to Elliott's left, swatted it into the open side at 15:09.

Another lost battle, another lost game.


Photos