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Senators need to stop second-period struggles

by Chris Stevenson

OTTAWA -- If the Ottawa Senators are going to avoid going down 3-0 in their best-of-7 Eastern Conference First Round series against the Montreal Canadiens, they are going to have to play better in the second period.

The Senators trail the Canadiens 2-0 going into Game 3 on Sunday (7 p.m. ET; CBC, NBCSN, TVA Sports) in large part because their second periods in the first two games of the series have been disasters.

The Senators led 1-0 after the first period in both games but have been outscored 6-2 by the Canadiens in the two second periods.

"[The Senators' play in the second period] has been a little up and down all year," Senators captain Erik Karlsson said. "I think about that second period and sometimes it's been great and others not so good. I think it's one of those small things we have to be aware of and clean up a little bit. At the same time we can't put too much pressure on just playing the second period."

Ottawa coach Dave Cameron said his players still are looking for their first 60-minute effort of the series in large part because of their sags in the second periods.

"We just have to bring our best game for 60 minutes," he said. "It's all about consistency. Usually the team that wins it, for the most part unless the goalie steals it, is the team that stays the longest. ... That's what it's about: sticking to it."

That said, Cameron credited the Canadiens for being able to dictate the flow of the game and knock the Senators out of their structure.

"You're always going to get away from it because the other team is going to force you out of it," he said. "It's not like you're playing a bad team here. We're playing a real good team, well-coached. They are going to force you out of your game. That part you can live with. It's when you take yourself out of it, bad execution, that's the part you try to fix. There's ebbs and flows in every game. That's the National Hockey League."

Senators goaltender Andrew Hammond said having a full effort for a complete game in front of the fans at Canadian Tire Centre will get his team back in the series.

"The best thing about it now is we might be down 2-0 but we get to play at home and we feel good about that," he said. "This series is still a long way from being over. We still feel good about our game. We're confident in that we still haven't played a full 60 minutes. When we do play a full 60 minutes we'll start seeing some success."

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