Pains, past and present

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:48 AM ET

ANAHEIM -- As the Ducks celebrated with the Stanley Cup down the hall late Wednesday at the Honda Center, Ottawa Senators general manager John Muckler went into the dressing room and tried to console the players.

"He told us we should be proud of what we achieved," Ottawa captain Daniel Alfredsson said following the club's ugly 6-2 loss in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup final. "That's hard for us to take right now."

The pain will be felt all summer. Someday, the Senators will look back on their long playoff ride as a success, but as they packed their bags and headed back to Ottawa yesterday, it still hurt in a lot of ways.

When it mattered the most against the Ducks in the final, the Senators came up short and that didn't sit well with anybody as they licked their wounds in the moments after.

The Senators weren't going to win this series if they didn't get scoring from their top line of Dany Heatley, Jason Spezza and Alfredsson. Coach Bryan Murray gave them every chance to be successful, but decided with the series on the line in Game 5 to split the trio.

Alfredsson scored twice in the last game. Heatley and Spezza weren't better apart.

"(The Ducks) played really well defensively and they didn't give us anything. That was part of it," Alfredsson said. "We could have played better and I hope we learn from this. I don't know if I'm going to get another chance to get here again. You hope you do.

"I'm sure that the young players are going to be able to take something from this and draw from this as they go forward."

This wasn't the way the Senators expected this year to end. The players wanted the glory, the championship, the parade to Parliament Hill and the long summer carrying the Cup from city to city to share with family, friends and fans. Instead, they were one of 29 teams that fell short.

"To come this far and lose, there are not really any words to explain it," Spezza said. "We played better in a couple of games, but I thought we lost the series early on when we couldn't get the job done.

"We seemed to lose our rhythm. We rolled along pretty good for three rounds and we were just never able to find it in the final. We didn't have anybody going on the same day and that's why we lost. We were definitely tight as a team and we wanted it for ourselves."

So, what happened?

Well, the Ducks were the better team. But the Senators thought they should have put up more of a fight and felt they would push back harder against Anaheim. There just didn't seem to be any gas in the tank left in Round 4.

There will be stories in the next couple of days that players were hurt.

Mike Fisher, Chris Phillips, Anton Volchenkov, Peter Schaefer and Mike Comrie all were nursing various bumps and bruises. According to Comrie, who had a shoulder problem that started against the New Jersey Devils, there were a lot of guys giving a brave effort.

"There were a lot of guys in here battling through a lot," Comrie said.

"There were a lot of guys shooting themselves up (with painkillers) so they could play in the final. This is the playoffs. You want to be out there. You wish that you could stay healthy."

Not only were there a lot of Ottawa players making their first trip to the final, Murray had not been there behind the bench either. This wasn't the ending he had scripted.

"I'm disappointed for all of us that we didn't get it done," he said. "And I'm disappointed in all of us, that we didn't get it done.

"As far as the team is concerned, I thought I saw a lot of character on our team. I don't know if in every case we were the most talented group, but we played very hard and disciplined throughout the Eastern playoffs. I'd like to make excuses for them, but there's really none I can make at the moment. Anaheim did what they had to do to win it."


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