Auld's A-game can't beat B's

BRUCE GARRIOCH, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:43 AM ET

BOSTON -- Playing out the string, it was just another in a string of losses for the Senators in Beantown last night.

Closing out one of their longest road trips of the season and offically eliminated from the NHL playoffs, the Senators limped home with a 2-4 record on their six-game trek after dropping a 2-1 decision to the Bruins at the TD BankNorth Garden.

While Alex Auld had a solid effort with 31 stops, only captain Daniel Alfredsson was able to beat Bruins goalie Tim Thomas, who also had 31 saves, as Ottawa dropped its fifth straight game in Boston. The Senators haven't won here since Dec. 18, 2007.

EAST LEADERS

The Senators poured it on the third period, outshooting Boston 14-6, but Thomas was unflappable in pacing the Eastern Conference-leading Bruins to their 50th win of the season (Boston needs one win or a Washington loss to secure home-ice advantage through the conference final).

"We've just got to continue what we've been doing the last few weeks," said Alfredsson. "The effort's got to be there every night. It's one of those things where if you don't put the effort out, it's not a lot of fun to play. I thought it was a good game and pretty intense. It was two good teams going at it."

The Bruins made Senators defenceman Brendan Bell pay for a bad turnover in his own end early in the third period. His poor clearing attempt was intercepted by P.J. Axelsson and he snapped it to Marc Savard, who beat Auld high on the stick side from the slot at 3:02 with a snapshot.

"They make you pay. They're a very good team," said Senators coach Cory Clouston. "It's disappointing because the third was our best period and we lose the third by 1-0."

It was no surprise Clouston decided to start Auld. Brian Elliott, who has lost three of his last four starts, was pulled after allowing four goals on 21 shots Tuesday against the Panthers.

Had it not been for Auld, it could have been ugly in the second period. Thomas made a breakaway stop on Ottawa centre Mike Fisher, but the Senators were outshot 13-7 in the second and Boston had plenty of chances to take the lead.

"We battled hard right to the end. They were able to get that last one and it was the difference," said Auld. "We played well. They're a very good team. We definitely showed well, but it wasn't quite enough."

The Senators did a good job withstanding the Bruins' onslaught and answering Boston's physical style.

Auld can't be faulted on Boston's opening goal by Milan Lucic, who scored his 17th of the season at 2:27 of the second to tie it 1-1, when he broke into the zone and fired a shot from the top of the circle over Auld's shoulder.

The Senators opened the scoring on a great shot by Alfredsson.

Taking a pass in the slot from centre Jason Spezza, Alfredsson fired it by Thomas high on the stick side to give the Senators a 1-0 lead at 5:23 of the first.

"We don't want to just roll over. We've got to play the games and they're important for us to try to win," said Spezza, who took a puck in the jaw in the third, but returned to play. He was sent for precautionary X-rays. "We've just got to keep the momentum. We're trying to build a good culture around here and winning these games is what's going to help that."

The Senators host the Flyers tomorrow at Scotiabank Place. Game time is 7 p.m.

BRUCE.GARRIOCH@SUNMEDIA.CA


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