- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 31, 2007

OTTAWA — The only disappointment for Glen Hanlon last night was the score.

The Washington Capitals coach couldn’t fault the effort, but he wasn’t happy with the result in a 3-2 loss to the Ottawa Senators at Scotiabank Place.

Instead of starting off their three-game road trip with two points, the Caps stumbled in their struggle to remain in contention for a playoff spot in a tight Eastern Conference race.

While Alex Ovechkin and Donald Brashear scored for the Caps, they couldn’t break Ottawa goalie Martin Gerber, who came up with 35 saves and stifled Washington’s comeback efforts.

“We just couldn’t score,” Ovechkin said. “You have to be able to score, and we weren’t able to do it. That was the difference in the game. We had the chances, and we weren’t able to put the puck in the net. Sometimes we don’t have luck, and I thought we played pretty well. We played better than Ottawa in the third, but we weren’t able to score. Getting goals is the key.”

Ovechkin opened the scoring for the Caps at 9:04 of the second period to cut the Senators lead to 2-1, but Ottawa’s Dany Heatley scored a little more than a minute later for a 3-1 lead.

With Gerber out of the net, Brashear again brought the Caps within a goal at 3:02 of the third period.

But the Caps failed to score again. Washington finished 0-for-5 on the power play, including a failed two-man advantage that lasted for 51 seconds in the second period.

“When you take a look at power plays, you look for execution, and we had some chances,” Hanlon said. “A percentage of them were good saves by Gerber, and a couple of them we just missed. Sometimes it’s not your night. I can’t fault anybody for not trying or doing what they need to do.”

Said Dainius Zubrus: “We kept digging, and we almost got it back at the end. I had a bunch of chances. I just couldn’t finish it off. Being frustrated is not a good thing because when you have that many chances and can’t score, it’s not a good thing. I don’t want to take anything away from [Gerber], but there were some chances we didn’t shoot on, and that could have made the difference.”

Hanlon, whose team faced the Senators for the last time this season, was disappointed his club didn’t take advantage of the fact Ottawa was coming off a 3-1 loss to Montreal on Monday and was fatigued.

“We’re trying to get there, but you take a look at what they have and what we have,” Hanlon said. “Their lineup and their success is intimidating. We didn’t take as much of advantage as we needed to take.

“We can’t give up those chances. We don’t have that luxury.”

Note — Caps right wing Richard Zednik is close to returning. He skated yesterday and is expected to play tomorrow when Washington travels to face the Florida Panthers.

“I’m going to talk to him after this here and see how he’s feeling,” Hanlon said. “If he’s feeling great, it’s up to him now to make a decision whether it’s going to be [tomorrow] or [Saturday].”

Bruce Garrioch covers the NHL for the Ottawa Sun.

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