Sens manage to ruin Clouston's debut

DON BRENNAN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:51 AM ET

They played with energy.

They had more chances.

They even won some puck battles.

But when the final buzzer sounded, they were not where they wanted to be.

They were not congratulating goalie Brian Elliott and each other in front of the Ottawa net.

They were not in 28th place by themselves anymore.

They were not in a good place.

An Atlanta win last night left the Senators tied for 28th, just four points ahead of the slow-charging Islanders, who are dead last.

And while they are mathematically still alive, their dream of a playoff spot has to be dead now, doesn't it?

How could the Senators wind up on the short end of a 1-0 final to the Kings? On this night, of all nights?

They were playing their first game in front of a new coach, generally considered a gimmie for any team. And they were playing a team that, while young and full of promise, is still among the dregs of the West.

Talk about ripe for the picking. After losing to the Habs on Saturday afternoon, the Kings spent the next two days (including Saturday night) in Montreal. There's probably a chance the boys soaked in some of the atmosphere the most fun city in Canada has to offer, don't ya think?

Yet they were still able to bring themselves together in time to spoil the debut of Cory Clouston (as in yes Clouston, we still have a problem) behind the Ottawa bench.

And with it, kill the hopes of even the most eternal optimists. Possibly even those of Eugene Melnyk, too.

STARTS AND STOPS

The initial surge of energy from having a new coach behind the bench translated into Nick Foligno registering Ottawa's first shot on goal at the :08-second mark ... "It's going to be a bees' nest out there for the first 10 minutes," Kings coach Terry Murray predicted after the morning skate. "There's no doubt the players are going to want to impress." Problem is, somehow and somewhere, the Senators have lost their stingers ... Chris Kelly missed the net entirely on a first-period breakaway. Dany Heatley hit the post after a defensive zone giveaway by Kings defenceman Sean O'Donnell (yes, at times it looked like the Senators were playing an intra-squad game) and then there were the great toe saves by Kings G Jonathan Quick off Antoine Vermette and Foligno in the third ... Word from Sportsnet's Ian "Trey" Mendes, as he worked between the benches, is that Clouston is "definitely louder than (Craig) Hartsburg." Added Trey: "I wouldn't say he's a screamer or a yeller, either. He's fairly controlled." Give it time ... Kings C Brad Richardson, who turns 24 today, was missing a 'D' on the back of his jersey for the first two periods. Apparently the Kings equipment staff decided to give him one as an early birthday present for the third.

BETWEEN PERIODS

Shean Donovan, who "ripped" something in his knee during the Senators' skills contest and has missed six games since, expects to return to the lineup soon. When he does, he'll move closer to the 900 games-played plateau Daniel Alfredsson hit last Sunday. Right now, he's at 897. Donovan admitted yesterday it'd be tough to match the two-goal performance the captain had in his milestone game. "It's going to be tough to get to 891 (career) points by then (like Alfredsson did) too," said Donovan, who is currently stuck at 233. "I'm going to have to get hot in the next couple of games." ... Wonder if the town of Viking, Alta. (population as of 2006: 1,085) put up a new sign yesterday proudly welcoming folks to the birthplace of Clouston. "No, probably not," Clouston said with a chuckle. He's got to be the most famous hockey person to come out of Viking after the six Sutters, no?

THINGS THAT MAKE YOU GO HMMM ...

Asked why he allowed his team a couple of nights in Montreal, L.A.'s Murray asked: "Why would you want to know that?" Told him because I know what kind of stuff I get up to when I'm there. And I'm neither young, rich or good looking. "It ended up being put together in August, and with the ice availability, it just worked out very well. Convenience, I guess," said Murray, who then admitted he could have brought the team to his home town of Shawville instead. "I think we would have had the whole town in the building (for practice)," said Murray. "That rink holds about 1,800 people." ... Now there's a familiar sight -- the out-of-town scoreboard shows the Caps' power play struck four seconds after the Devils' Jamie Langenbrunner took a hooking penalty in New Jersey. And Jonathan thinks he's Quick ... Must have been Dean McAmmond's alter-ego "Hank" who took the second-period rough penalty with Raitis Ivanans. The Kings winger is 6-foot-4, 256 lbs. Hank eats those guys for breakfast.


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