EDMONTON – The Ottawa Senators have managed to avoid hitting rock bottom.
Alex Kovalev had two goals and an assist as the Senators stopped an 11-game winless streak and avoided falling into the NHL basement by defeating the last-place Edmonton Oilers 5-3 on Saturday.
Milan Michalek, Bobby Butler and Peter Regin also scored for the Senators (18-30-8), who moved four points ahead of Edmonton by ending their drought. They were 0-9-2 over that stretch.
“It feels great to end that streak,” said Senators assistant captain Chris Phillips. “It’s been a while since we won. It’s been tough.
“It was never one little thing that was happening all of the time. It was different mistakes. You couldn’t just point your finger at it and fix it. When a streak gets going like that you can’t get any luck. But the guys worked hard through it and it finally paid off for us.”
Ottawa’s last victory came on Jan. 13, a 6-4 win at the Islanders, which is why goalie Brian Elliot was also breathing a sigh of relief.
“I think we’ll have a bit of a better feeling going to the rink now,” he said. “Hopefully a little more confidence and cockiness. When you are not succeeding it wears on you. Now we have to make sure it isn’t just one win and that we go on a losing streak again.”
Dustin Penner had a pair of goals and Andrew Cogliano the other for the Oilers (16-31-8), who have dropped two in a row and have won just two of their last 13 games.
“When they scored their second goal (on their second shot of the game) it took a lot out of energy out of us,” said Oilers associate coach Ralph Krueger. “It seemed whatever happened after that, the rest of the way we seemed to have the hill ahead of us. The penalties were symbolic of that undisciplined feeling.
“To play seven times shorthanded for the second game in a row, we can’t win hockey games doing that kind of thing.”
Oilers goalie Nikolai Khabibulin ran his personal losing streak to 14 games.
Ottawa got on the board first, scoring on its first shot of the game less than three minutes in. Butler took the puck away from Tom Gilbert and then walked around his defensive partner, Theo Peckham, to deposit his first career NHL goal.
But Edmonton tied the game up less than a minute later as Jordan Eberle fed Cogliano in front and he slipped the puck underneath Elliott.
The Senators scored on their second shot of the contest as well, as a long shot by Kovalev flipped up into the air and appeared to accidentally be knocked into his own net by Khabibulin.
The Oilers tied the game 2-2 early in the second period as Penner unleashed a quick wrist shot that went off the post and in and seemed to handcuff Elliott.
It became a rough and tumble affair in the latter stages of the second with even Khabibulin and Senators tough guy Chris Neil shoving each other before Theo Peckham stepped in for the Oilers.
Khabibulin took a pair of minor penalties on the play but the Oilers were able to kill off both to keep the game knotted up after 40 minutes.
Ottawa regained the lead eight minutes into the third on their seventh power play as the puck bounced around in front of the Oilers net before Michalek was able to slip it into the corner to make it 3-2.
Edmonton was awarded a two-man advantage soon thereafter but failed to capitalize.
The Senators gave themselves a cushion with six minutes left when Kovalev made a nice feed on a 2-on-1 to Regin, who lifted the puck past Khabibulin.
The cushion was needed because the Oilers pulled back within one when Penner scored his second of the game and 20th of the season with 2:21 left.
Kovalev scored his second of the game into an empty net to salt the game away for the Senators.
Edmonton remains home to face the Anaheim Ducks on Sunday. The Senators return home to face the New York Islanders on Tuesday.
NOTES: It was the second and final meeting between the two clubs. Edmonton won the first match in Ottawa 4-1.…The game kicked off Hockey Day in Canada, which saw all six Canadian teams playing each other as Montreal took on Toronto and Calgary played Vancouver.…It was Senator forward Jason Spezza’s 500th career NHL game.…Oilers captain Shawn Horcoff missed the game with a bout of bronchitis.…Edmonton head coach Tom Renney remained away from the team, spending time with family after the death of his father.…Senators defenceman Chris Phillips took time off on Thursday to travel to Fort McMurray, Alberta, to visit his father, Garth, in hospital.…Phillips is currently last in the league in plus/minus ratings at minus-27. The next two players up the ladder are also Senators defencemen—Erik Karlsson at minus-25 and Philip Kuba at minus-23.