Simple trick sinks Ottawa

DON BRENNAN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:50 AM ET

WASHINGTON -- The only bomb associated with the Senators yesterday was the long one completed by Nicklas Backstrom for the converted touchdown.

They lost this one well before the Caps centre scored an empty-netter from his deep in his own end to send Ottawa home from a three-game road trip with a 7-4 loss at the Verizon Center.

The Senators lost this one in the first period, if not earlier.

"I think the tempo and speed of the game that Washington had, had us rattled for two periods," said coach Craig Hartsburg. "The way they play with the puck and attack had us on our heels. In the third period we had a push, but I think it was more Washington backed off.

"The thing for us right now is that we have to play the game with a lot more pride than what we started this game with. They're a great team and they exposed some things for us, but we have to take a lot more pride in ourselves as a team right from the start of hockey games."

The Senators struck first when Daniel Alfredsson, playing in his 900th career game, scored his first of two 3 1/2 minutes in. But they fell apart six minutes later.

Just three seconds after Dany Heatley took a needless hooking penalty, Mike Green tied the game. And less than a minute after that, Jarkko Ruutu was in the box for only four seconds before Alex Ovechkin scored the first of his hat trick to give the home team a lead it would never relinquish.

Ottawa entered the day on a strong run from its penalty killers, who had survived 24-of-25 short-handed situations in the previous six games. But in just seven seconds, and with lost faceoffs by Antoine Vermette and Mike Fisher, that was all but a memory.

"Three penalties, all stick penalties, one from each line, and it cost us," said Hartsburg.

At that point, the Senators were done.

"If there's any chance, it's a long road back when you let a team like that up," said Dean McAmmond, who didn't disagree with Hartsburg's assessment that the Senators need to show more pride at the start of a game. "At the start, middle, end, on the ice, off the ice. You always have to play with pride. When you're down, when you're up. You always have to pride yourself in doing the little things, the big things. I don't think it's just at the start of the game."

Hartburg pulled goalie Brian Elliott, who was making his eighth start, at the 2:15 mark of the second period, after the rookie allowed his fourth goal on 16 shots.

"We weren't very good as a team and it was time to get him out of the net," said Hartsburg, who had words of praise for Ovechkin. "He's the star of the league. People pay a lot of money to watch him play, and he performs every night. He's certainly worth the price of admission."

The Senators, who were down 6-2 after two periods, had goals from Vermette and Heatley to go along with Alfredsson's pair.

"When you lose 7-4, you have to be bad in some areas," said Alfredsson. "But sometimes you just have to tip the hat to some individual efforts they had. They scored some unbelievable goals."

With just one win from their three-game sojourn, it's no wonder the Senators returned home with their tails between their legs. With Pat Sajak watching yesterday, their wheel of fortune is pointing downward.

"We're not in a position right now to be getting two of six points on a road trip," said Jason Spezza. "It's disappointing."


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