Tasks for the Senators: Stop the mistakes, get to Lundqvist

NEW YORK – After watching a replay of their 4-2 loss to the New York Rangers here on Thursday night, the Ottawa Senators now know what they have to do if they want to have a chance in tonight’s second game.
It’s not rocket science.
Two things: They can’t make as many mistakes as they did in the first game, and they have to get traffic in front of Ranger goalie Henrik Lundqvist.
Pretty fundamental stuff, and they knew it before the series started, too. But it took the lessons of the first game for the message to sink in.
After playing decently for most of the first two periods, they made three mistakes in the span of six minutes at the end of the second period and the beginning of the third that allowed the Rangers to turn a 1-0 game into a 4-0 game.
And except for the third period, when Daniel Alfredsson and Erik Condra scored, most of their shots on Lundqvist were from the perimeter.
With their mistakes, the Senators did their best to give the game away, said defenceman Chris Phillips.
“The biggest issue for us was turning the puck over and making mistakes in bad areas of the rink,” he said.
“Give them credit for putting the puck in the net and capitalizing. But if we’re smarter with the puck, it doesn’t guarantee you anything, but it certainly increases your chances, for sure.”
Jason Spezza said the mood of the team was good as it gathered for practice.
The players didn’t feel crushed by the loss, but were disappointed they missed a chance.
“We feel like we can play with them, and I think we feel we played pretty good at times, and then we kind of got away from our game and that’s when they took over,” he said.
“That’s what makes them the best team in the East. They were probably a little more consistent than us (Thursday night).
“But the feeling is still optimism. You have to be prepared to lose games in the playoffs. We’re not going to win them all.
“We’re still optimistic that we can make this a series and beat these guys. We’ve just got to play a little bit better.”
As he did in the minutes after the game, coach Paul MacLean again gave his team credit for playing decently for 54 minutes. But he noted that’s not enough to win any hockey game, let alone one in the playoffs.
Those six minutes were a killer.
“You just can’t give up free goals, where they get free opportunities,” he said.
“I think that’s what’s most disappointing for us as a group. We’d like to make then earn their goals a little bit more than they did (Thursday night).
“If you put the whole game together, we weren’t horrible for a real long time in the game, but in the playoffs you can’t be. You have to be good for the whole game.”
To score some goals of their own, the Senators also have to get to Lundqvist. They got to him a bit, but not enough.
“I think what we did in the third period is that we did a better job of getting in the middle of the ice and getting guys driving on their goalie and stopping in front and making it harder on him,” said Spezza, who led the Senators with five shots.
“They do such a good job of blocking shots and collapsing that we have to use our points and try to spread the rink a little bit. That’s some of the stuff we did toward the end of the game that got us some goals.
“And just having a little bit of composure with the puck.”
With the number of young players in Ottawa’s lineup without NHL playoff experience, veteran defenceman Sergei Gonchar was asked if it was a good thing now that the first game, and the anticipation that comes with it, is behind them.
He agreed, sort of.
“I’m sure there’s some kind of relief, but it’s not a relief when you lose the game,” he said.
“We just have to take the experience of this game and move forward.”

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