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Sens confident they're 'going in the right direction'

by Rob Brodie / Ottawa Senators
Less than 11 hours later, the sting of a critical setback was only beginning to wear off.

But rather than wallow in the negativity of the result — a crushing 4-3 overtime loss to the Atlanta Thrashers on Monday night — it was back to business for the Senators earlier today, with an eye toward a rugged two-game road trip to end the week.

Thursday night, the Senators are in St. Paul, Minn., to take on the Wild (8 p.m., Sportsnet Sens, Team 1200). Then it's off to Denver for a Friday evening matchup with the Colorado Avalanche (9 p.m., Sportsnet East, Team 1200). In other words, there's little time to still consider what might have been on Monday evening, when Ottawa rallied from a 3-0 deficit to force OT against the Thrashers, only to surrender the winner to Bryan Little just 1:09 into the extra period.

Instead, the Senators preferred to focus on the comeback that produced a point.

"We know we played a pretty good game and we probably should have won," said Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson. "I think we feel we're going in the right direction. We've played some pretty good games here as of late and now we've got to make sure we turn it into wins.

"But it's positive that we're playing pretty solid throughout the whole game now."

Added defenceman Chris Campoli: "We found a way to come back and it's important that teams do that. We have started to create more offensively ... we just need to tighten up a little more defensively. Last night, it just wasn't there. If we do that and we get that combination with the good goaltending we're getting, we should be in good shape."

Moral victories, however, aren't going to help the Senators push closer to a playoff position. The Senators (13-16-3) currently sit ninth in the Eastern Conference, seven points behind the Tampa Bay Lightning, who currently hold the final post-season spot. The Bolts also have two games in hand.

While head coach Cory Clouston suggested Monday's effort can be a springboard to better things, he agreed wins are what's really going to get it done in Ottawa's playoff chase.

"We're happy with how we played in the last couple of games and it's definitely something to build on," he said. "You have to be able to build on something. Otherwise, why don't you just throw in the towel? And we're not ready to do that.

"So we played well (Monday) and we came back ... We're not happy with the loss but we definitely are happy with the way we played. That's all we can focus on right now."

Around the boards

It was a rough day at the office for defenceman Matt Carkner and forward Jesse Winchester, both of whom needed stitches after being cut during separate incidents at practice. Carkner was nicked by Erik Karlsson's skate blade, while Winchester took a puck in the mouth. Both should be good to go Thursday in Minnesota ... Forward Alex Kovalev was absent from today's on-ice session because of illness ... Goaltender Pascal Leclaire, who dealt with a lower-body injury over the weekend, appears set for duty again. "He looks like he should be ready," Clouston said with an eye toward the three games in four nights the Senators will face to end the week ... Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals are at Scotiabank Place on Sunday night (7:30 p.m., Sportsnet East, Team 1200) in the final home game before the Christmas break.

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