The second-worst team in the NHL was just a little bit better than the worst. For much of the afternoon, it appeared neither squad wanted to win the Basement Bowl. The first two periods were characterized by sloppy play, poor goaltending and ineffective man advantage work. Ottawa finally took control with a late surge, however, snapping its 11-game losing streak in the first game since dealing away popular leader Mike Fisher.
Alex Kovalev, Senators
Kovalev continues to showcase is little-used skills ahead of the trade deadline. He scored twice — including a long bomb into an empty net from his own zone to lock down the victory — and set up Peter Regin with a beautiful saucer pass for the game-winner late in the third period. He has five goals in his last six games.
Nikolai Khabibulin, Oilers
Khabibulin allowed goals on the first two shots he faced, which is pretty sad considering how much the Senators have struggled to score of late. With his 20-save performance, Khabibulin extended a personal losing streak to 14 games.
The Senators could have just as easily lost this game, given the number of missed opportunities they racked up (they failed to score on their first six power plays against the league’s worst penalty-killing unit). Andrew Cogliano made the mistake of giving them one more shot, however, and Milan Michalek finally found the back of the net to give Ottawa its third and final lead of the afternoon. To be fair, the Oilers weren’t any better — their power play went 0-for-5.
- 2: Wins this calendar year for the Senators.
- 1: Win for Brian Elliott in his last 14 appearances.
- 15: Saves he needed against the Oilers for the victory.
- 4: Lead, in points, the Senators now have on last-place Edmonton.
- 2: Goals for Dustin Penner, who led his team in scoring.
YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED
With the playoffs an afterthought, many fans have started tuning in to see how the Senators’ rebuild project shakes out. General manager Bryan Murray gave them a little tidbit of information during the game, telling the CBC that he doesn’t want to trade star centre Jason Spezza. That brings to three the number of players expected to survive the coming purge, with Spezza joining young all-star Erik Karlsson and Senator-for-life Daniel Alfredsson.
The Butler finally did it. Bobby Butler notched his first career NHL goal and assist in his 10th game, opening the scoring with a floating puck past Khabibulin’s blocker. Butler generated plenty of excitement earlier this season with his scoring exploits in AHL Binghamton, but they didn’t carry over to the bigs until Saturday afternoon. It was a nice way to kick off a youth movement that started with the Fisher deal.