Clouston thanks his players

BRUCE GARRIOCH, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 4:39 PM ET

BOSTON -- As the final buzzer sounded on the Senators' season, Cory Clouston said goodbye to his team, likely for the final time.

Following a 3-1 loss to the Bruins, the Ottawa coach thanked the players for their efforts as he prepares to learn his fate from GM Bryan Murray.

Only Bobby Butler was able to beat Boston goalie Tim Thomas in what was a fitting end to a frustrating season.

Clouston, whose contract is set to expire, said he hopes his status is settled quickly, but if this is it for him, he'll leave with his head held high.

"I talked to the guys after the game and I told them I'm very proud of how they played those last 27 games," said Clouston Saturday. "They showed a lot of character. I think they moved the team and the organization in the right direction.

"It would be a good to have (his future) figured out soon, but I'm not going to worry about it."

Clouston said the way Thomas, who finished the year with a league-record .938 save percentage, performed against the Senators was a shining example of why it takes goaltending to win in the league.

"Our goaltending issue, when you look back, all you have to do is look across the ice and see what Thomas does when they make mistakes," Clouston continued. "To have that type of presence in the goal for you. We see what it's like to have (Craig) Anderson playing for us. You just become a completely different team."

Rich Peverley, Nathan Horton and Daniel Paille each scored on backup goalie Curtis McElhinney, who made 26 stops as the Senators were held to one goal or less for the 23rd time this season.

The Senators did avoid one futility record. By scoring, the club managed to finish with 192 goals this season. That's one more than the franchise-low of 191 goals set in 1995-96.

It is the Senators' lowest total since they scored 193 in 1997-98.

The loss to Boston wasn't for a lack of effort.

"It's characteristic of the way our team has played since the break," said centre Jason Spezza outside an empty dressing room. "We worked hard and we became a tougher team to beat. We weren't going to roll over against anyone.

"It would have been nice to have won this one, but they're a team that's playing well going into the playoffs. We just couldn't capitalize on some of our chances. It's been a good stretch for us. We can take some positives, but it would have been nice to win the last one."

A double-minor to Ryan Shannon in the second period resulted in the winning goal by Horton at 1:08.

"We played a pretty good game. We worked hard and we had chances," said defenceman Chris Phillips. "They just capitilized on our chances."

The message from Clouston didn't fall on deaf ears.

"We didn't give up. We battled right to the end. We showed a lot of what we're capable of doing going into next season," said Phillips. "You've gotta believe that (there are brighter days ahead).

"We did it with young guys that are stepping in, not free agents that are leaving. These guys are the future of this organization and there's no reason to think we can't pick up where we left off (next year)."

But for the Senators, tomorrow will have to wait for training camp.

bruce.garrioch@sunmedia.ca


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