Senators drop 5th in a row

Ottawa Senators goalie Pascal Leclaire lets a goal by him from the stick of Atlanta Thrashers' Eric...

Ottawa Senators goalie Pascal Leclaire lets a goal by him from the stick of Atlanta Thrashers' Eric Boulton during the first period of their game at Phillips Arena in Atlanta, Ga. on Tuesday, Jan. 12. (Jason Braverman, QMI Media)

BRUCE GARRIOCH, QMI AGENCY

, Last Updated: 8:17 AM ET

ATLANTA -- Injuries aside, not much is going right for the Senators these days.

Especially when it comes to stopping the puck from going into their net.

Brought in by GM Bryan Murray to solidify the Senators, goaltender Pascal Leclaire was yanked again Tuesday night after giving up three goals on 14 shots in Ottawa’s 6-1 loss to the Atlanta Thrashers at Philips Arena.

“I’m not playing the way I want to play,” said Leclaire. “I’ve been on and off the last 10 days. It’s bad timing. For me, it’s pretty frustrating. I don’t know if I’d call it a slump, but I’m definitely not playing well. I’m not playing the way I should play.”

Centre Chris Kelly said the goalies shouldn’t shoulder all the blame.

“You’ve got to point fingers at everyone, not just the goaltenders. Nobody played well,” said Kelly. “The score dictated that. This is a tough time we’re going through.”

And as this five-game road trip continues, the banged- up Senators, in the midst of a five-game losing skid, are barely hanging onto a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Only centre Peter Regin was able to beat Atlanta goalie Ondrej Pavelec Tuesday night.

Meanwhile, the Thrashers were lighting up the scoreboard. Ilya Kovalchuk had a three-point night, while Todd White and Slava Kozlov both chipped in with two points each as the Thrashers won in regulation time for the first time since Nov. 30.

Fresh off a players-only meeting after a 4-1 loss Sunday in Carolina, the Senators did little right last night.

“We can have meetings and we can talk until we’re blue in the face. We’re in the business of results,” said a frustrated Kelly. “You can go out there and have a great game and lose or you can go out there and have a bad game and win. Right now, we want the wins. Having good games and not winning isn’t good enough. The last few games, the way we’ve lost is embarrassing.”

The real concern is the play of Leclaire. Pulled by coach Cory Clouston three times since returning from a broken cheekbone on Dec. 23, he has given up 31 goals on 238 shots in his last 10 games. In 501 minutes, Leclaire has a 3.71 GAA and an .870 save percentage.

Leclaire was way out of position on the go-ahead goal by Atlanta’s Pavel Kubina at 17:08 of the first. With Leclaire trying to dive across to cover a wide-open net, Kubina took a pass from Ron Hainsey and fired it home to give the Thrashers a 2-1 advantage.

With Atlanta leading 3-1, Elliott gave up a goal on the first shot he faced from White, who hadn’t scored in 34 games.

Clouston said the goalies need to work through the slump.

“It has got come from within. They have got to find a way to find their game,” he said. “We can support them with technique, with drills, with video, with communication. The bottom line is they have to be the ones to go out there and make the save.”

Winger Jonathan Cheechoo was slammed into the glass from behind by former Ottawa defenceman Christoph Schubert at 5:01 of the first period. Cheechoo returned to the ice, while Schubert was given a major and a game misconduct. The Senators’ power play again sputtered, unable to take advantage of the five-minute power play. Mike Fisher hit the post. And the man advantage was killed when Alex Kovalev was sent off for slashing.

The road trip continues Thursday against the New York Rangers.


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