After a 6-3 loss to the Montreal Canadiens Monday night the Senators (6-10-1) have lost seven of its their eight games and are a dismal 2-6-0 on home ice. The team continues to put forth a brave face, but the weary looks tell a much more telling story. “We can’t give up,” said captain Daniel Alfredsson. “We’ve got to keep pushing and get ready for the next practice, the next game. We’re not going to quit.”
Guillaume Latendresse scored two powerplay goals to lead the Canadiens. Mike Komisarek, Radek Bonk, Mike Johnson and Alex Kovalev also scored for Montreal (9-4-3). Cristobal Huet stopped 36 shots.
Denis Hamel, Patrick Eaves and Antoine Vermette scored for Ottawa (6-10-1) and Martin Gerber faced 31 shots in his eighth loss of the season.
Gerber has been taking much of the heat as of late, but on Monday he could not shoulder all the blame.
“The guy gave up five goals and he gave us a chance to win the hockey game. That’s the way I felt about it,” said Senators coach Bryan Murray. “That was as strong a game as he’s played for us. He made huge stops in a couple of cases.”
Gerber’s teammates feel for him, but at the same time are desperate to see his play improve.
“He’s a great teammate and he works very hard and we know he wishes he could play better,” said Mike Fisher. “So do I and so do a lot of other guys.”
The problem is Gerber is just part of the equation.
Special teams continue to be a problem for the Senators. Ottawa finished the game 2-for-7 on the power play, while Montreal was 2-for-4 with the man advantage.
“We did score two (Monday) and have had one in the last few games,” said Jason Spezza. “It’s not as good as we want, but at least it’s getting better. If we had the answers we would definitely solve the problems.”
Montreal opened the scoring at the 12-minute mark of the first as the Senators gave up their seventh short-handed goal, a league worst. Tomas Plekanec passed to Komisarek who’s shot just trickled through Gerber’s pads and across the goal-line.
“We knew they had been up and down and sort of teetering between having good and bad games, but they’re a dangerous team offensively,” said Komisarek. “We wanted to make sure they didn’t figure things out (Monday) and get on a roll.”
The Senators tied the game with less than two minutes remaining in the opening period as Hamel tipped Andrej Meszaros’ shot from the blue-line.
The Canadiens regained the lead late in the second period as Bonk, standing at the top of the crease, was able to knock down Alexander Perezhogin’s wrist shot.
Montreal took control of the game early in the third as Latendresse scored two power-play goals within 31 seconds to jump out to a 4-1 lead.
“They got a forecheck going and we struggled getting the puck out of our end,” said Murray. That to me is the big difference right now. They get on us and we’re not making skill plays to get going.”
On the first, Latendresse caught Gerber out of position and on the second he beat him with a quick shot.
Ottawa managed to make the game interesting for the 20,051 on hand at Scotiabank Place, scoring a pair of their own power-play goals. Eaves scored a powerplay goal at the seven-minute mark of the first period and Vermette scored with just over six minutes remaining, but it meant nothing as Johnson beat Gerber on an ugly goal to seal the victory.
Kovalev added an empty-net goal to ice the game.
The Senators will have little time to regroup as they take on the Eastern Conference leading Buffalo Sabres Wednesday night.
Notes: Ottawa D Wade Redden (groin) is out of the lineup indefinitely, G Ray Emery (wrist, day-to-day). Montreal was without LW Chris Higgins (ankle, mid-December), D Mathieu Dandenault (hamstring tear, out indefinitely) and D Francis Bouillon (knee, out indefinitely).