OTTAWA – The Ottawa Senators used a dominant first period to ensure Sergei Gonchar’s 1,000th career NHL game was worth celebrating.
Alex Kovalev scored twice and the Senators earned just their third win of the season, 5-2 over the Phoenix Coyotes on Tuesday.
The Senators stormed out of the gate as Erik Karlsson and Kovalev scored nine seconds apart in the first period to give the Senators a 2-0 lead. It was the fastest two goals in Senators history, breaking the old record of 10 seconds set Oct. 19, 1995 by Martin Straka and Antti Tormanen.
Ottawa outshot the Coyotes 20-8 in the opening period and outscored them 3-0.
Gonchar got into the act later in his milestone game with a third-period assist on Daniel Alfredsson’s power play goal as the Senators (3-5-1) had a two-man advantage.
“It’s not about the point, it’s about the win,” Gonchar said.
“There were so many things that were going through my mind. I was a big thing for me.”
Gonchar played his first game on Feb. 7, 1995 as a member of the Washington Capitals, the team that drafted him and with whom he played 654 games. He played 15 for the Boston Bruins, 322 for the Pittsburgh and the last nine with the Senators.
Prior to the game, Gonchar was presented with a silver stick, a portrait and a plaque.
“It was a great job (the presentation). The painting was great, my family was there and everything was great,” he said.
Alfredsson added that the Penguins and Capitals will likely do something to honour Gonchar as well, and that it was nice to see him get recognized after such a short time in Ottawa.
“It’s great to see him get celebrated like he did. He’s had a pretty good career so far and obviously winning a game like this makes it more enjoyable,” Alfredsson said.
“Great night all around.”
Kovalev’s goals were his first two of the season, and he also added an assist. He’s now six points shy of 1,000 for his career.
His second goal of the game came less than a minute after Keith Yandle had pulled the Coyotes (2-3-2) to within 3-2 seven minutes into the third period.
Chris Kelly gave the Senators a 3-0 lead before the end of the period with a fortunate goal. From behind the net, Kelly banked a shot off the skate of Coyotes defenceman Andrew Ebbett before the puck hit the right and then the left skate of netminder Jason LaBarbera and went in.
Brian Elliott made 28 saves for Ottawa.
“We played an unbelievable first period which set up the whole game for us. We got a little bit of penalty trouble and couldn’t get any momentum in the second, but Elliott played well and Kovalev made a difference,” Alfredsson said.
Sami Lepisto also scored for the Coyotes.
Ilya Bryzgalov replaced LaBarbera in the Phoenix goal to start the second period and it seem to inspire the Coyotes, but the blame wasn’t to be placed on the goalie, according to Coyotes captain Shane Doan
“He didn’t get any help. The first one was an empty net and then Kovalev has a great shot. The third one bounces off our guy and you can’t do anything about that, but we’ve got to give him more help,” Doan said.
“We put ourselves in a position where we had to chase the game all night.”
Notes: The Senators were down a goalie, a defenceman and a forward Tuesday as Pascal Leclair missed his fifth straight game with a groin injury while forward Jason Spezza missed his forth straight and fifth overall with the same ailment. Defenceman Filip Kuba has yet to play in any of the Senators nine games since breaking his leg in training camp…Senators’captain Daniel Alfredsson is the club’s all-time leader in games played (1011), goals (380), assists (622) and points (1,002)…An upper-body injury forced Coyotes forward Martin Hanzel to sit out his fourth straight game Tuesday.