For nine uplifting days, they had the magic touch with the game on the line.
But now that the one-goal verdicts are going against them, don't expect the Ottawa Senators to suffer through any prolonged periods of self doubt. Quickly enough, the Senators believe, the pendulum can start to swing their way once again — as soon as Wednesday night, when the New York Rangers pay their first visit of the season to Scotiabank Place (7:30 p.m., TSN, Team 1200).
"We could have won both games, but we didn't," Senators defenceman Erik Karlsson said with an eye toward a pair of weekend home-ice losses — 2-1 to the Montreal Canadiens on Friday and 4-3 in a shootout to the Buffalo Sabres the following night — that could have easily gone the other way. "But that's the way it is sometimes.
"You're going to win some of these games and you're going to lose some. Hopefully, we just lost ours right now and we can win the next one."
These Senators should know better than anyone how fine that line can be. Seven of their last eight games have been decided by a single goal, with Ottawa winning five of them consecutively from Oct. 22-30 as part of a six-game winning streak. But the Senators' offence — and the power play, in particular — didn't generate enough offence on the weekend to keep that roll going.
"They were two pretty close games," said Senators centre Jason Spezza. "There's things we can do better, but we don't feel like we have to change too much ... Just try to put the puck in the net a little more. We had some chances and both games were pretty good hockey games. We just have to find a way to win (those) games and get results."
At 7-7-1, the Senators are currently winless in their last three outings. The Rangers game on Wednesday offers an opportunity to reverse that trend before they hit the road for the better part of the following two weeks.
"We've still got to know we have to have the two points," said Karlsson. "That's what matters. If we stick to it, play the way we (have been) but play a little bit better and with a little bit more urgency, we're going to come away with a lot more (wins)."
Alfredsson 'progressing,' still no timetable for return
Daniel Alfredsson took a significant step today in his recovery from a concussion. The Senators captain skated on his own before practice, his first appearance on the ice since suffering the injury against the Blueshirts in New York on Oct. 29, when he took a blow to the head from Rangers forward Wojtek Wolski.
Senators head coach Paul MacLean said Alfredsson told him "he feels better" following the on-ice session, which he estimated went on for about 30 minutes. Still, it's much too soon to suggest when Alfredsson will be ready to resume game action. The Senators begin a five-game road trip Friday in Buffalo against the Sabres (7:30 p.m., Sportsnet East, Team 1200).
"He's progressing," said MacLean. "He made some progress the last couple of days, which is very positive. He's gone from riding the bike to actually skating, which is a good sign ... He said he faelt fine (this morning). He doesn't have any symptoms, but he still has to take the baseline test (part of the National Hockey League's protocol for dealing with concussions), which I believe is scheduled for tomorrow. We'll see what happens after that."
Around the boards
For the second time this season, the Senators have re-assigned winger Nikata Filatov to their American Hockey League affiliate in Binghamton, N.Y. During his previous stint with the B-Sens, the Moscow native totalled five points, including four goals, in seven games. But that kind of production has yet to materialize in Ottawa, where Filatov has one assist in six outings. "He's a star in the American Hockey League, which is good for him," said MacLean. "It's a great place for him to get confidence and be a good player. And when I talked to him today, (I told him) I want that player here in Ottawa, but we're not getting that player. When he comes up here, he gets a little bit tight and tentative, and doesn't do as much creatively with the puck ... He's only played his way into six or seven minutes of ice time up here, and that's not enough for him to be that player." ... Fewer than 1,000 tickets remain for Wednesday's matchup with the Rangers, including a number of seats in the Coke Zero Zone starting at $15.