MONTREAL - Jason Spezza came in with the pressure to show some extra effort, head coach Craig Hartsburg says it was his Ottawa Senators teammates that didn't give enough in their 4-0 loss to the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday night.
Hartsburg called out Spezza on Sunday for his lacklustre effort of late, but he says he was more than satisfied with what Spezza did Tuesday night.
"I thought Jason played hard, he competed and he had some chances," Hartsburg said. "If he plays that hard every night, he'll have no complaints from me."
Spezza played over 20 minutes and got a team-high four shots on goal, but still extended his recent rough patch to one assist in six games. However, his lack of production was overshadowed Tuesday by a general lack of cohesion from the Sens that resulted in few scoring chances among the 28 shots they threw at Carey Price.
"These are big games for us, these guys are ahead of us in the standings and they're in our division," said Spezza, who was not in a very cheerful mood. "They're a good team to match up against to see how your team is doing, so it's obviously disappointing."
The Senators poor 6-7-2 start to the season is deceiving because Ottawa has a 5-3-1 record when Alex Auld is in goal, as he was Tuesday night stopping 27 shots.
It would be difficult to fault Auld for Tuesday's loss, with two Canadiens goals coming on clean breakaways, another on a defensive breakdown and a fourth on a quick play off a lost faceoff by Dean McAmmond in the defensive end.
Auld wasn't happy with what he saw from his teammates in front of him.
"I don't think we had a whole team game for a full 60 minutes," Auld said. "Against this team, if you don't have that they'll burn you."
The Senators have now lost two straight after going five games without a regulation loss. Prior to that the Senators lost four straight, and Hartsburg sees some bad habits creeping back into Ottawa's play.
"The last couple of games we haven't played a real good team game," he said. "If we want to be a good team this year, we'll have to do those team things right."