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Coach John Paddock paid the price for the Ottawa Senators' inconsistent play since November. ((Sean Kilpatrick/ Associated Press))

John Paddock didn't last a full season as Ottawa head coach — he was fired Wednesday after embarrassing back-to-back shutout losses.

After a torrid 15-2 start, the Senators won just 21 of their next 47 games (21-20-6), including being shut out on consecutive nights: 5-0 at home to Toronto on Monday, and 4-0 in Boston on Tuesday.

Ottawa gave up four power-play goals and a short-handed marker in the games.

Bryan Murray, who left the bench last season to take over as general manager when John Muckler was let go, will coach for the balance of the season.

Assistant coach Ron Low was also let go, with assistant coach Greg Carvel, Eli Wilson, Randy Lee and Tim Pattyson staying on.

The Senators return Thursday against the Flyers in Philadelphia.

"It's always a surprise when a coach gets let go," centre Jason Spezza said at the team's hotel in Philadelphia. "We've been struggling, but as a team I don't think we thought it would come to the coach getting fired.

"It just shows the high standard we have in our dressing room, the city of Ottawa, and that our owner has. It shows how competitive a team they think we have."

The Senators have been too reliant on the trio of Spezza, Dany Heatley and captain Daniel Alfredsson for scoring.

Defencemen Chris Phillips and Anton Volchenkov, among others, have not been able to match last year's standard in their own end.

Goaltending has provided the bulk of the concern among hockey observers. Martin Gerber has been inconsistent, and Ray Emery has been disciplined more than once for off-ice issues after signing a lucrative contract in the off-season.

Paddock had been with Ottawa for six years, serving as an assistant coach and as head coach with the team's American Hockey League affiliate in Binghamton, N.Y.

Paddock was returning to the NHL as a head coach after a 13-year absence. He coached the Winnipeg Jets between 1991 and 1994.

Murray led the Senators to the Stanley Cup final last season in his second year as the team's coach.

He boasted a 100-46-18 record in two seasons behind Ottawa's bench and has 665 wins in an NHL coaching career that began in 1981. He ranks fourth on the all-time wins list.

"Bryan and John share the same philosophy, so it's not going to change that way," Spezza said. "We've a good hockey club and we expect to win.

"We have to find a way to get winning games again."

As general manager, Murray was unable to swing a major deal by Tuesday's deadline. He obtained Martin Lapointe, whom he coached in Detroit, in exchange for a draft pick.

Earlier in the month, he sent defenceman Joe Corvo and forward Patrick Eaves to Carolina for veterans Cory Stillman and Mike Commodore, who both won a Stanley Cup with the Hurricanes in 2006.

With files from the Associated Press