Thrashers surrender five unanswered goals in loss to Senators

OTTAWA, Ontario – Even when they score first, the Thrashers have a bad habit of falling behind.

They did it again Tuesday night and this deficit was too big to overcome.

Ottawa scored five unanswered goals en route to a 5-2 victory over the Thrashers at Scotiabank Place. The loss was the third straight for the Thrashers (6-6-3, 15 points). Although they have trailed in all six wins, the trend is starting to catch up with them.

The Senators scored twice in both the first and second period. The fourth goal chased Atlanta starting goaltender Chris Mason.

The Thrashers opened the scoring with a power-play goal by Andrew Ladd 4:01 into the game. Ladd jumped on a rebound in the crease after a Tobias Enstrom shot only nine seconds into an interference penalty to Erik Karlsson. It was Ladd’s fifth goal of the season.

The lead would not last long. The Senators had 2-1 by the end of the period.

Jason Spezza fired a shot that beat Mason at the 11:05 mark. Four minutes later, Sergei Gonchar scored on the power play to give the Senators an advantage they would never lose. Rich Peverley's cross-ice pass was intercepted, allowing the Senators to keep the puck in the Thrashers’ zone, and Peverley was then called for slashing.

The Thrashers lost the ensuing faceoff and Gonchar blasted a shot past Mason three seconds into the man-advantage at the 15:39 mark.

Turnovers again plagued the Thrashers.

“We were pleased with the start,” Thrashers coach Craig Ramsay said. “We were speedy. We were going after them. We were putting pressure on their defense. We were doing everything right. We give up one. Then we throw one in the middle at 1-1, take the penalty and they score right off the faceoff. We can’t afford those little details and mistakes. It’s too much like work to be falling behind all the time. When we’ve got the momentum ... we have to make stronger plays in the middle of the ice. We still have this bad habit of throwing backhanders into the middle and hoping it works and it doesn’t.”

The Senators, winners of four straight and six of their past seven, improved to 6-0-0 when leading after the first period. The Thrashers fell to 1-2-3 when scoring first.

The Thrashers surrendered the first goals of the season to the Senators’ Chris Neil and Jesse Winchester in the second period. Winchester shoved a loose puck in the crease under Mason, prompting Ramsay to summon Ondrej Pavelec from the bench.

“Bottom line, I wasn’t very good tonight,” Mason said. “I was horrible. I have to make a couple saves and it could have been a different game. You have to make a big save for the guys regardless of the situation.”

Spezza scored his second goal of the game on the power play just 1:23 into the third period. The score came with 29 seconds left on a boarding penalty to Ladd. Jim Slater had a chance to clear the zone for the Thrashers but could not. Seconds later, Spezza beat Pavelec and Senators’ lead grew again.

“It seems to be the reoccurring thing here ... turnovers,” Ladd said. “Whether it’s at our blue line or their blue line, they are a team that will make you pay and they did.”

Atlanta's Anthony Stewart scored a power-play goal on an assist from Evander Kane at the 5:12 mark for the final three-goal margin. It was Stewart’s first goal in 10 games and the Thrashers' first third-period goal in three games.

The Thrashers took more than 30 shots at Senators goaltender Brian Elliot, who was making his 11th straight start, but managed just two power-play goals.

“We have to push back,” defenseman Johnny Oduya said. “The effort wasn’t there tonight. I’ve said before. If it’s not there, we aren’t going to win any games.

“It comes with not being sharp enough from everybody. When we play good and are on top of our game, we don’t make those mistakes. There are going to be games when things don’t go perfect and you are not in the flow. That’s when you have to really keep it simple.”