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Sloppy play, poor execution hurt Senators in opener

by Chris Stevenson

MONTREAL -- The Ottawa Senators are hoping to play a lot more like the team they were the final two months of the regular season in Game 2 of their Eastern Conference First Round series against the Montreal Canadiens at Bell Centre on Friday (7 p.m. ET; CNBC, CBC, TVA Sports).

Senators coach Dave Cameron called their play sloppy in a 4-3 loss in Game 1 of the best-of-7 series on Wednesday.

Senators goaltender Andrew Hammond said the game was hardly indicative of the team the Senators think they can be.

"We feel like the way we played the last two months wasn't necessarily the way we played [Wednesday] night," he said. "It's just important for us to get back to that brand of hockey of straight lines and making sure we have the whole team included in every zone. I think we'll give ourselves a much better chance of success."

But playing like the team that went 20-3-3 down the stretch to earn a spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs will be a challenge if forward Mark Stone is unable to play.

Stone sustained a microfracture and ligament damage in his right wrist in Game 1. He was slashed by Montreal defenseman P.K. Subban.

Stone had 47 points in 46 games to finish the regular season. Stone tied Ryan O'Reilly of the Colorado Avalanche for the League lead in takeaways with 98.

"It's something for the last two months we've been facing adversity in different ways," Hammond said. "Obviously, this is a little bit different form of that. It's the same thing that got us to this point, just to keep going. The challenge might seem great, it might seem too much to overcome having [Stone] out of the lineup. We don't really have any other choice than to just keep going. That's all we can do."

Veteran wing Chris Neil practiced on the fourth line Thursday. Cameron moved wing Milan Michalek into Stone's spot with Kyle Turris and Clarke MacArthur. Forward Alex Chiasson was promoted from the fourth line to take Michalek's place with Mika Zibanejad and Bobby Ryan.

Cameron said the Senators need to fix their positioning for Game 2.

"Give Montreal credit. Good team," he said. "Our execution at times was a little bit sloppy. What I mean by that is you're on the wrong side of the puck. Your system allows you a mistake. You can recover from a mistake if you're on the right side of the puck. If you're not on the right side of the puck that mistake's a huge scoring chance. A lot of times it ends up in your net.

"We were on the wrong side of the puck a few times. We were looking to create offense when it wasn't an offensive situation. That's not conducive to us winning."

"I think [Wednesday] we gave a little bit too much to them," Zibanejad said. "We've been talking about it. There's a couple of things we can fix. It's not a miracle. I think we've just got to go back to what we've been doing so well before."

The Senators had six players make their playoff debuts in Game 1 and veteran defenseman Marc Methot said that was a factor in Ottawa's performance.

"I think we got better. I thought at the start of the game we were a little nervous," he said. "Having a young hockey club like we do, the emotions run very high and we were nervous. I thought we settled in during the second period. We traded chances which generally isn't our game. It was an exciting game, I'm sure. We've got to steal one here [Friday] night."

When asked to sum up the mood around the team Wednesday, Hammond said: "I don't think we lost the series last night by any means. It's just making sure we're ready [Friday] night."

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