OTTAWA (AP) -Alex Kovalev broke out of a long slump in a big way.
The 36-year-old forward has taken his share of flak in his first season in Ottawa for failing to produce regularly, but on Sunday, Kovalev ended a 10-game scoring drought with a career-high four goals in the Senators' 7-4 victory against the Philadelphia Flyers.
``All I can say is that it's a good way to start 2010,' said Kovalev, who added an assist.
The goals were his first since he snapped a 16-game goal-less run with a hat trick on Dec. 12 against Carolina. Those were the only goals he'd scored since Oct. 29 before Sunday.
``Hopefully, that's the way it's going to go for me the rest of the season,' he said. ``I've been saying before that I'm trying to find the right spot and be in the right spot at the right time. I think today that was exactly what happened.'
Flyers goalie Michael Leighton was gone midway through the first period after giving up two goals on seven shots.
Ottawa's Pascal Leclaire made it halfway through the game before leaving after he allowed three goals on 10 shots.
The Senators squandered a 4-1 lead, but pulled away with three goals in the third period.
``It was a weird game all around,' said Philadelphia's Brian Boucher, who took the loss after giving up five goals on 26 shots. ``Both of the starting goalies get pulled and we battle back, then unfortunately, they got the better of us in the third. I can't explain really what happened out there.'
The seven goals were as many as the Flyers had allowed in their previous five games combined.
Kovalev scored the first goal against Leighton, who went 4-0-1 while started Philadelphia's previous five games. The loss came against Boston on Friday in the Winter Classic.
This one will be memorable to Kovalev, who posted his 12th NHL hat trick.
``I've been shooting the puck, hitting the post too much, but it looks like today everything was just perfect,' Kovalev said. ``Everything I wanted to do happened.'
Kovalev overshadowed Chris Kelly, who had his first career two-goal game for the Senators. Ottawa won for the fourth time in five games.
``It figures, my first game ever having two goals and he has four, but what are you going to do?' Kelly said.
Jarkko Ruutu added a goal and an assist, and Ryan Shannon and Anton Volchenkov had three assists each. Elliott made 10 saves to earn the win.
Arron Asham scored once and set up another goal, and Ian Laperriere, Darroll Powe and Mike Richards, on the power play, added Flyers goals. James van Riemsdyk had two assists.
Laperriere had given Philadelphia a 1-0 lead at 2:10 of the first period when he beat Leclaire, making his sixth straight start since returning from a fractured cheekbone.
But things quickly turned around for the Flyers.
Kovalev tied it 2 1/2 minutes later and, after Kelly beat Leighton at 9:07 mark, the Flyers made a goaltending switch.
Just 80 seconds later, Ruutu scored. Kovalev added a goal less than two minutes after that to make it 4-1.
``If you'd told me we'd be tied after the second, I wouldn't have believed you,' Shannon said. ``We thought everything was going well, then we kind of laid an egg there.'
Powe and Asham scored to chase Leclaire, and Richards completed the comeback during a 5-on-3 power play.
``As a defensive pairing, it was me and (Chris) Campoli out for the first three goals against and it just seemed like we were a second too late and they ended up in the back of our net,' said defenseman Matt Carkner, who, along with Campoli, finished minus-3.
Kovalev netted the winner when he scored his third at 2:57 of the final period.
Kelly added another with the teams playing 4-on-4, and Kovalev scored his fourth on a shot from the slot. It was the fifth four-goal game in Senators history.
``It's tough on both teams with that many goals being scored,' Carkner said. ``Having guys answering back like that is what winning teams do, so it's great.'
NOTES: The teams split the first two games of the season series in Philadelphia. ... Flyers forwards Riley Cote and Mika Pyorala were scratched. Defensemen Ryan Parent and Ole-Kristian Tollefsen, day to day with injuries, also sat out. ... Ottawa D Alexandre Picard, formerly of the Flyers, was a healthy scratch for a second straight game.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved