ATLANTA -- The Senators promised they wouldn't go down without a fight.
They didn't put up much of one last night.
After an ugly 6-3 loss to the Thrashers -- one that saw goalie Brian Elliott yanked at 14:16 of the second period -- the Senators are on the verge of being officially eliminated from the playoffs.
With eight games to play, they are 12 points behind Montreal for eighth.
The bright spots offensively last night were Jason Spezza (two goals and one assist) and Ryan Shannon scoring his seventh of the season.
But it wasn't nearly enough, as Ottawa lost its second straight on this six-game trip.
"We just got outworked. Plain and simple: They wanted it more than we did," said an incensed coach Cory Clouston. "It's very hard (to explain). It's a must-win. I'm at a loss. I'm not exactly sure what to say or how to explain it. Just the effort wasn't consistent enough. At times we had the effort, but not consistent enough."
FELL APART IN SECOND
Six players chipped in with goals for the Thrashers, who received three-point efforts from Slava Kozlov and Tobias Enstrom. Ilya Kovalchuk had a goal, his 40th, and an assist.
The Senators completely fell apart in the second period when Atlanta scored three times in a span of 2:58 to take a 5-2 lead after 40 minutes.
Clouston gave Elliott the hook after he allowed four goals on 21 shots, the last goal a five-hole effort by Marty Reasoner.
"It was a little bit of everything," said Clouston of pulling Elliott. "By no means is it his fault."
Just for good measure, Colby Armstrong scored on the first shot Alex Auld faced at 16:10.
Atlanta's Tobias Enstrom started the second-period blitz with a power-play goal at 13:12. Elliott didn't have a chance on that goal because he was screened in front, but the Senators need him to make big stops if they're going to have any chance of getting back into the playoff race.
Trying to spark his club, Clouston shook up the lines, putting Nick Foligno with Spezza and captain Daniel Alfredsson.
That didn't do much to get winger Dany Heatley going with Mike Fisher and Shannon, but Foligno did have his first fight in the NHL, against Nathan Oystrick in the third period.
"It wasn't the way we wanted to come out and I thought, for the most part, we got outworked," said Fisher.
"We didn't compete hard enough. They definitely got some bounces on a few of those goals, but they worked for them. They played pretty good and we didn't respond. We didn't skate or compete the way we need to."
In what can only be described as a wild first period, the Thrashers outshot the Senators 11-5, but both teams had plenty of opportunities and were able to convert. Kovalchuk's goal at 19:50 tied it 2-2 after 20 minutes.
Spezza's second of the game and 29th of the season gave the Senators a 2-1 advantage at 11:01 of the first when a shot by Shannon from the point appeared to bounce off Spezza and by Hedberg on the stick side.
That was about as good as it got for Ottawa.
"We played a decent first period. They got the late goal and we played a horrible second and they outplayed us after that," said Spezza, who opened the scoring at 2:13 of the first. "We've got to win every game and that's a tough outcome for us."