Sens stars fail to come out

CHRIS STEVENSON -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 9:04 AM ET

Well, you can't blame Ray Emery for this one.

Or the kids on the blue line.

This one winds up at the stalls of the guys who are supposed to get the job done for the Senators -- defencemen Wade Redden, Chris Phillips and Zdeno Chara.

Captain Daniel Alfredsson.

Forwards Jason Spezza and Dany Heatley and Martin Havlat.

They weren't good enough last night.

That's the way it is.

That is the reality they will have to shoulder going into tomorrow night's Game 3 in Buffalo, which represents the cliff's edge in a season that was supposed to be all about reaching the summit.

Redden had a questionable pinch that led to a 2-on-1, which was poorly played by Chara as the lone man back and resulted in the game's first goal at 3:33 of the second period.

BURNED AGAIN

After getting burned with pinches in Game 1, you would think they had learned their lesson. With the speed of the Sabres forwards, there is no room for error.

A turnover in that area of the ice and a couple of feet of gap quickly becomes a dozen.

Give the Sabres a 2-on-1 and they will score.

Have they missed one in this series?

Chara took neither the passer nor the shooter, and J.P Dumont and Daniel Briere switched twice before Dumont had another tap-in.

Then Phillips committed a horrific giveaway at the Sabres' blue line, attempting a backhand pass to forward Mike Fisher at the left point.

It landed right on the tape, but unfortunately it was the tape on the stick of Sabres forward Jochen Hecht, back in the lineup and looking like he hadn't missed a beat.

Hecht sped away and beat Emery with a nice move that saw the puck slip between the Ottawa goaltender's pads at the six-minute mark.

Neither goal was Emery's fault, though he had to wear the very unflattering statistic of having allowed nine goals on 34 shots at that point in the series.

Phillips atoned somewhat for his gaffe by getting the Senators on the board with a shot from the point that changed direction off a Sabre's leg and beat Buffalo goaltender Ryan Miller through the pads at 7:40 of the second.

That was all the Senators would get on Miller.

This was going to be a game that would show what the Senators had this season apart from skill. Thing is at this time of year, other teams have that, too.

Winning at this time of year requires something more.

In last night's first real test of the season, the first time the Senators have faced sinking into a hole not quite six feet deep, they couldn't find a way to win.

STERN TEST

Now they face a trip to Buffalo where another bigger, sterner test awaits.

The Senators have lost their last three playoff games in Buffalo.

The last time they played the Sabres in the playoffs, their season ended there in a four-game sweep.

The remaining image of last night's game will be the puck kissing the goal line of the Sabres net with 2:38 to play in the third period.

Spezza's breakaway ended with Miller having the puck hit the back of his left leg.

The puck inched towards the line, stopping on its edge.

The Senators battled last night in the third, cranking up the intensity. It will leave some wondering why they couldn't have started a game with such significance that way.

DEVASTATING HIT

The devastating hit by Ottawa forward Peter Schaefer on Buffalo's Tim Connolly, which left Connolly -- who has a history of concussion problems -- unmoving on the ice could have signified a turning point.

It did not.

Instead, it was mistakes by some of the Senators' best players that led to their downfall last night.

If there was supposed to be one area the Senators had an advantage in this series, it was supposed to be on the blue line.

The Sabres have a solid group of defenders, but none with the supposed talents of Chara, Redden and Phillips.

They were supposed to be the difference in this series.

Turns out they are.

Alfredsson was asked what he would say to Senators fans at this point, down 2-0 and heading for Buffalo.

"I'd say the same thing to them we tell ourselves," he said. "You've got to believe. We're in tough, but it's far from over.

"We're far from done."


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