Senators too physical?


, Last Updated: 10:05 PM ET

PITTSBURGH GM Bryan Murray dropped by the dressing room to deliver the Senators a message before they flew off possibly into the sunset Wednesday afternoon.

Be yourselves, he told them.

I made a point to the guys this morning that weve been more interested in running around and hitting people than just playing the way we normally play, said Murray, whose team is one loss from seeing its season end. Pittsburgh is a good team. Were a good team. Were in the playoffs. Im watching other series. Colorado is competing really well with San Jose ... thats what I think our team is capable of doing.

The Senators have played better in Pittsburgh this series. At Mellon Arena, they won a game and lost another by one goal. In Ottawa, with a chance to put a stranglehold on the Penguins, they lost Game 3 by two goals and were at their worst in Tuesdays 7-4 defeat that leaves them on the brink of elimination.

Two games (in Pittsburgh) we played okay then (Tuesday) we just went out to crucify people rather than play smart and keep the game simple and allow us to compete in the third period, said Murray.

I think we got caught up in trying to be more physical than wed normally be, thats all. And when we gave up the third goal, we lost total focus for awhile. Then we finally get one back, and get a second one, and then the damn glass falls out when we have a great slot play. It was because of a hit, theres nothing anybody can do about it, but its just what seems to be the case right now.

It was a hit by Matt Cullen, on Brooks Orpik, and it was Daniel Alfredsson teed up in the slot, aiming at pulling the Senators to within one.

I had a lot of space, said Alfredsson. Thats the way it goes.

Asked if he has seen anything that gives him hope of a comeback, Murray was blunt.

Not (Tuesday) night, he said. We gave up too many easy opportunities to the other team.

Its easy to blame the goaltenders all the time, but when you give breakaways and tap-in goals and slot shots to them, its pretty tough for any goaltender to look like a star.

Part of the problem were the struggles of Anton Volchenkov and Chris Phillips. The teams shutdown defensive pairing couldnt shut down. Volchenkov and Phillips were both minus-3, the result of being on the ice for each even-strength goal scored by Sidney Crosbys line.

As a pair they have to be better, they have to be more physical, said coach Cory Clouston. I dont think Volchie had a hit (he didnt) and thats very unusual.

But its the offensive mistakes that are creating the turnovers thats allowing them to create offence. If we can eliminate the blind passes in the slot, the turnovers at our blue line, were not going to give them near the opportunities.