Ottawa Senators need to start learning how to win now

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Jacques Martin is a teacher by trade.

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Even the Ottawa Senators’ interim head coach is likely getting tired of the same old excuse from his group that they have to learn from losses if they’re going to take this to another level.

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The losses are piling up for the Senators as they prepare to face the Boston Bruins on Tuesday night at TD Garden and, unless this team can find some level of consistency in the final 16 games of the season, this could get uglier.

Coming off a disgraceful 7-2 loss at the hands of the Carolina Hurricanes on Sunday night at the Canadian Tire Centre, the Senators opted not to skate after back-to-back games and headed straight to MacDonald-Cartier Airport for an afternoon flight to Boston.

Playing the fifth game in a stretch of eight in 13 days that started March 12 with a 2-1 overtime win against the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Senators need to get their act together quickly after they fell apart at the seams and gave up five unanswered goals at home.

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At what point is this group going come to the realization that the way it competes on a nightly basis isn’t good enough? The lightbulb is either going to go off in their heads or it’s not.

“That’s a good question. If I had the answer I probably wouldn’t be here,” Martin said Sunday night. “But I don’t have the answer. You talk about it, you show them situations and at some point I guess people have to learn.”

If the Senators have designs of making the playoffs next spring, then teams like the Hurricanes and Bruins are a couple they’re going to have to beat. Sitting 14 points out of the final wild-card spot in the East heading into Monday night’s action, the rest of the season is a formality for Ottawa.

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But they’ve stated many times since the trade deadline passed without Steve Staios, the club’s president of hockey operations and general manager, making any significant moves to alter this roster that this group won’t throw in the towel down the stretch.

If that’s the case, we can’t see a repeat of what happened in the final period against the Hurricanes. This was just a total collapse in every way, shape and form. It started with allowing Seth Jarvis to give the Canes a 3-2 lead with only 21.8 seconds left in the second.

The Senators just never recovered from that backbreaker. Goals by Carolina’s Jake Guentzel, Dmitry Orlov and Jalen Chatfield in a span of four minutes and 11 seconds in the third put the game away.

“It’s on us to be mature and being better with the puck at certain times,” alternate captain Thomas Chabot said. “We had some chances putting (the puck) behind them, forechecking them and that worked for us.

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“We didn’t do that and when you play a team that has a chance of winning the Stanley Cup, that’s going to come back and haunt. That’s exactly what happened in the third.”

The issue this is the seventh straight year the Senators will learn their lessons the hard way by missing the playoffs. That wasn’t supposed to be the case this spring and you really have to start wondering if maybe this core of players just isn’t going to be it to make it to the next level.

Old habits are hard to break and, as exciting as Tim Stutzle is to watch, he took a chance late in the second that turned out to be costly when his turnover in the Carolina zone led to the go-ahead goal by Jarvis.

“Our line can’t give up that last goal before the end of the second. I thought we played two good periods against a really good team and then one thing (led) to another,” Stutzle said.

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One thing we know about Martin is he’s not the type that will dwell on a loss or get over-excited during a successful streak. One of the reasons he’s the winningest coach in franchise history is he has an incredible ability to stay on an even-keel.

If the players took on the personality of the coach, they’d probably have a lot more success.

“The first two periods, actually, we had a couple more chances than they did,” Martin said. “I thought we played really well. We competed hard. I thought we did a really good job and they’re one of the better teams in the league.

“I think we self-destructed. Can’t feel sorry for ourselves. We’ve just got to pick ourselves up.”

Getting up off the mat hasn’t always been easy for this group, but if the club wants avoid being embarrassed by the Bruins, then that’s the only option.

The Senators three-game winning streak halted in a horrible fashion against the Hurricanes. Motivation is tough to find when you’re as far out of the playoff picture as the Senators are at the moment, but they’d better dig deep or the road to the end of the season could be long.

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