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Senators need a quick rebound

by Rob Brodie / Ottawa Senators
The sting of another discouraging defeat didn't last long. It simply couldn't.

On the morning after dropping a 6-3 decision to the Flames in Calgary, the Ottawa Senators woke up in Vancouver, already contemplating the next challenge that awaits them. They'll hit the ice at General Motors Place on Sunday night to face off against the Canucks (10 p.m., Rogers Sportsnet, Team 1200) in the tail end of a rugged set of back-to-back games in western Canada.

Safe to say, the Senators had little time to lick their wounds after squandering a 2-0 lead against the Flames on Saturday night. The gap between 12th place Ottawa (12-16-5) and the Buffalo Sabres, who currently hold the eighth and final playoff position in the Eastern Conference, has grown to 10 points. Meaning the urgency for the Senators to end an 11-game road winless streak (0-9-2) continues to build.

"There are too many games left to be a fragile bunch and to quit and give up," Senators centre Jason Spezza said after the loss in Calgary. "There’s no point sulking. We’ve got a game (Sunday) and we’ve just got to find a way to start getting some wins and play above .500 on this trip ... This next stretch is important for us."

The Senators won't get any help on the injury front tonight. Defencemen Anton Volchenkov (upper body) and Filip Kuba (groin) both remain out and centre Cody Bass has joined them on the sidelines after suffering an upper body injury during a scrap with the Flames' Eric Nystrom. That means Ilya Zubov draws back into the lineup.

While the Canucks are only 5-4-1 their last 10 games, they're a solid 10-5-1 on home ice. But Senators head coach Craig Hartsburg's concerns go beyond tonight's foe.

"Right now, the concern is ourselves," he said earlier today. "We have to make sure that our game is more consistent for 60 minutes. (Saturday) night, I thought we played pretty strong early and as the game went on, we got away from some things. We started to lose some of that structure that we need in our game and as the game went on, that cost us."

"There are too many games left to be a fragile bunch and to quit and give up. There’s no point sulking. We’ve got a game (Sunday) and we've just got to find a way to start getting some wins and play above .500 on this trip ... This next stretch is important for us." - Jason Spezza
While the Senators are emerging from the offensive funk that plagued them earlier this month, they've sprung a bit of a leak defensively, allowing 25 goals in their last five games — four of them losses.

"If we’re going to have any success as a team, we’ve got to be tight defensively," said Hartsburg. "We can’t give up five goals a night and expect to win games. We’ve got to get our team game back to where we’re tighter and not giving up those chances. We’re starting to feel a little more comfortable offensively and are creating some things but it’s not going to matter if we don’t tighten some things up."

Saturday night, the Senators built a 2-0 lead, only to see it disappear quickly when Calgary rattled off three goals in a little more than two minutes. The Flames kept coming in the third, outshooting Ottawa 20-9 en route to the win.

"Once they scored that first goal, it became even more magnified that we started to run and chase instead of just staying patient, especially in our end, and then winning battles," said Hartsburg. "We were all over the ice in our own end … it just wasn’t good."

Around the boards

Martin Gerber (3-6-1) returns to the Ottawa net tonight, making his 10th start of the season ... The Senators are off to Edmonton after tonight's game and will face the Oilers on Tuesday at Rexall Centre (10 p.m., Rogers Sportsnet, Team 1200) ... The Senators and Canucks meet again Feb. 19 at Scotiabank Place.

Karlsson leads Swedes at WJC

Senators prospect Erik Karlsson had a goal and an assist as Sweden dumped Slovakia 3-1 at the Ottawa Civic Centre on Sunday night to improve its record to 2-0-0 at the 2009 IIHF World Junior Championship. The 18-year-old blueliner was Ottawa's top pick (15th overall) in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft at Scotiabank Place.

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