One step backward, two steps forward... it's the mindset the Ottawa Senators know they must have as a busy stretch of December hockey awaits them.
In other words, Saturday's disappointing 4-2 road loss to the New York Islanders is already in the rear-view mirror. And the focus has shifted toward getting back on the right track when the Atlanta Thrashers visit Scotiabank Place on Wednesday night (7 p.m., TSN, Team 1200).
"The key thing for us right now is don't let this slip any more than one game," Senators head coach Craig Hartsburg said after the team's practice session at the Bell Sensplex earlier today. "We're in a situation where we thought we were starting to play pretty well but in (Saturday's) game, we didn't. The biggest thing is to make sure that's a one-game situation.
"Throughout the course of our start this season, we've played three or four (good) games in a row and then we seem to want to drop off for three or four games. The important thing now is to make sure that we catch it and we don't continue on that path."
Before Saturday, the Senators were on a 2-0-2 run and enjoying one of their better stretches of hockey to date this season. But one more time, they stumbled against the Islanders, who are now 3-0-0 against Ottawa this season. While that's been admittedly frustrating for everyone, captain Daniel Alfredsson
said it's a sentiment that has to be filed away before they hit the ice against the Thrashers.
"(Saturday's) game was frustrating but before that, we were playing pretty well," said Alfredsson. "We've had one (bad) game here but we just can't let it slide to three or four games that we're not playing well. We have to bounce back Wednesday and have a good effort and show that was just one game, and then play another stretch where we put good efforts together and, hopefully, come up with a lot of points."
The Senators (8-10-4) currently stand 13th in the conference standings, six points shy of a playoff position. All the more reason for a quick rebound, as the calendar flips into December.
"It's going to be important, especially coming back home," said centre Antoine Vermette. "We felt we had three or four games (before Saturday) that were solid efforts. We're going to try to get back that feeling, that momentum that we had before that game."Senators still ailing up front, on blue line
The Senators might be shorthanded in a couple of areas again Wednesday. Hartsburg said centre Dean McAmmond, who's been fighting a serious head cold for more than a week, isn't likely to see action against the Thrashers.
"(McAmmond) is still weak," said Hartsburg. "He's gone through a tough time in the last week. I would say he's very questionable. He didn't skate again today."
Also questionable is defenceman Alex Picard. He sat out Saturday with a sprained wrist suffered during Thursday's 2-1 shootout victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs.
"He skated this morning but (the wrist) is still pretty sore when he's shooting or paassing the puck," said Hartsburg. "But he's made a lot of progress. We'll see how he does tomorrow."Around the boards
Centre Cody Bass has been recalled from the Senators' American Hockey League affiliate in Binghamton, N.Y. He saw action in Ottawa's last four games before helping the B-Sens to a 5-3 win over the Hamilton Bulldogs in Montreal on Sunday ... Forward Ryan Shannon (concussion) is still awaiting clearance from a doctor before he'll be allowed to resume game action ... Fewer than 3,000 tickets remain for Wednesday's game, while 800 are left for Saturday's matchup with the Pittsburgh Penguins (2 p.m., CBC, Team 1200), which will be the only appearance by the reigning Eastern Conference champions at Scotiabank Place this season.