'We got outplayed'

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:04 AM ET

What went wrong?

Somewhere about the 18-game mark of the regular season, the Senators forgot they were just months removed from being a conference champion.

And now they'll have plenty of time to wonder what it'll take to rejoin the NHL's elite following last night's 3-1 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

After making a trip to the Stanley Cup final last spring, the Senators will have the longest summer in their 11-year playoff run and they'll have plenty of time to do some soul-searching in a season they started out 15-2.

Sidney Crosby, with an empty-netter, Evgeni Malkin and Jarko Ruutu scored for the Penguins last night.

"We lost four straight. We got outplayed," said Senators coach/GM Bryan Murray. "We just didn't play the way we had been playing. I don't feel very good about the effort of the team."

Trying to get the offence back on track, Murray reunited the trio of Jason Spezza, Dany Heatley and Daniel Alfredsson. That didn't work. Nothing worked.

"Not being able to get goals from that pair (Spezza and Heatley) really sunk us," said Murray.

"We just didn't score goals," said Spezza. "I had one assist and I'm pretty disappointed in myself. You know we are going to take the blame. We've got to shoulder the load."

This is only the third time in team history the Sens have been swept in a playoff series.

It would be difficult to even suggest the Senators went down with a fight because they didn't. They abandoned goaltender Martin Gerber throughout the series. Cory Stillman scored the lone Ottawa goal.

"There's been a lot of negativity from the outside and I think that losing soured inside the room," said Spezza.

Ruutu fired the go-ahead goal through Gerber's five-hole at 15:28 of the second to give the Pens a 2-1 lead. It appeared that Antoine Vermette tied it with 2:59 left in the second, but it was ruled to be a "distinct kicking motion" after video review.

"It's pretty tough," said Alfredsson, who confirmed he was playing with a torn MCL in his knee. "We had such a difficult second half of the season. We thought if we got into the playoffs, we could get a fresh start and it just didn't happen.

"We didn't play well going in. Once we got in, there was so much to lose and we were worried about the biggest collapse ever.

"Some guys played too safe and didn't want to make mistakes."

Once again, the Senators struggled with discipline problems. A slashing call on Heatley only 48 seconds into the second period led to Malkin's second goal and seventh point of the series. Only moments after Vermette was unable to convert a pass from Cody Bass on a 2-on-1 shorthanded effort, Malkin pushed his own rebound past Gerber.

"It's disappointing with the group we had and the start we had last year. We had big expectations and we fell well short," said defenceman Chris Phillips.

"It's just tough losing the way we did," said defenceman Wade Redden, who may have played his final game in an Ottawa uniform.


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