Ottawa, last season’s Presidents’ Trophy winner, kicked off a three-game road trip with a 2-1 loss at Pittsburgh on Saturday, and has won just three of its last 11 games (3-5-0-3).
Senators coach Jacques Martin believes his team’s inability to live up to high expectations has been one of the major factors in their mediocre play.
“It’s all about attitude,” said Martin. “You start looking at things and I think you can get caught up in your press clippings (and) that can transfer into something different. You feel like you should go out and dominate every team.”
“When that doesn’t happen, then you can start to get frustrated. We haven’t started the way people have expected and that has made it tough for us.”
The Senators have had plenty of success against the Rangers, sweeping the season series last season and going 15-6-3 against New York since 1996-97.
New York is coming off an 0-2-2-0 road trip, and is struggling to produce on both sides of the ice.
“We’ve got to learn how to win and I think that’s an important ingredient,” said captain Mark Messier following Thursday’s 4-3 loss at Colorado. “We need to realize in certain situations what needs to be done on the ice and what the game is dictating.
The four-game swing began with a 5-0 loss at New Jersey on Nov. 15, which prompted Messier to call a team meeting. While the team played better in the final three games of the trip, the Rangers got only two out of a possible six points in three games.
“When we play the way we can, and we’ve done it for stretches the last few games, we’re a very hard team to play against,” Rangers winger Matthew Barnaby said. “But we have that three or four-minute stretch every game where we let down, and it’s cost us.”
STANDINGS (through Nov. 21): Senators - 20 points, 4th place (tied), 36 PB, Northeast Division. Rangers - 18 points, 4th place, 42 PB, Atlantic Division.
SPECIAL TEAMS (through Nov. 21): Senators - Power play: 26.2 percent (22 for 84), 1st (tied) in NHL. Penalty killing: 85.4 percent (76 for 89), 8th. Rangers - Power play: 10.4 percent (7 for 67), 29th in NHL. Penalty killing: 84.9 percent (79 for 93), 10th.
2002-03 SEASON SERIES: Senators, 4-0-0.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Senators - 4-2-0-1 on the road; Rangers - 5-2-2-2 at home.
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