Kovalev finding his groove
Sens forward hopes four-goal outburst is just the beginning
|Senators forward Alex Kovalev added an exclamation point to his four-goal performance against the Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday when he did the moonwalk after being named the game's first star (Christine Tea/Freestyle Photography/OSHC).
Less than 24 hours after blitzing the Philadelphia Flyers with the first four-goal game of his National Hockey League career, Alex Kovalev basked in the glow of a virtuoso performance that he punctuated with a Michael Jackson-like moonwalk after being named the game's first star.
But the flashy Russian hopes to show there's more where that came from when the Senators face off against the Boston Bruins on Tuesday night at Scotiabank Place (7:30 p.m., Rogers Sportsnet, Team 1200). One night, Kovalev pointed out, does not a season make.
"I don’t know how other players feel after a game like that," he said after the Senators' practice earlier today at Scotiabank Place. "Me personally, the next morning, you already forget about what happened. The guys are laughing about the moonwalk and the four goals and talking about it. But I usually try to forget about it as quick as possible.
"It’s already done, it’s in the past and you can’t live on one day. You’ve just got to move on and achieve the same thing over (again) ... Four goals is great. First time in my career. I definitely want to get it going and hopefully, this is going to keep coming."
Prior to Sunday's outburst, Kovalev had gone 10 games without a goal. Then against the Flyers, just about everything he touched seemed to find the back of the net.
"Hockey’s a funny game," said Senators head coach Cory Clouston. "Sometimes, the bounces go for you and sometimes they don’t. And sometimes you need a game like that to get yourself going. The last five or six games, that line has played very, very well."
Indeed, the combination of Kovalev, Mike Fisher and Ryan Shannon has clicked in a major way and it just might be the second-line trio the Senators have been looking for – assuming the injured Daniel Alfredsson and Jason Spezza form the heart of the No. 1 line when they eventually return to the lineup.
"For whatever reasons, we’ve had good matchups against other teams," said Shannon, who enjoyed a three-assist day against the Flyers. "It seems if we have success, it carries through the entire game. I don’t want to analyze it too much. It’s going well. You can tell when things go well, it’s kind of contagious and it spreads throughout other guys and you gain momentum.
The kind of game Kovalev produced Sunday merely whets the appetite of fans hoping to see more of the same from a player who, at 36, remains one of the NHL's elite talents. But Kovalev prefers to focus on the end result.
"Definitely, you want to step up," he said. "You want to bury those chances that I keep getting. At the same time, I don’t want to get too frustrated about it. I know people are expecting me to score every game, but it doesn’t happen like that. It’s not an individual sport, it’s a team sport. What we do, we’ve got to do together.
"Maybe in the Gretzky era 20-25 years ago, when everybody wasn’t skating as well, you could probably do everything yourself. But these days, players are getting better and better skill-wise and it’s getting harder and harder to put everything on yourself. You have to involve the whole team to do the work."
Around the boards
While Alfredsson (separated shoulder) and Spezza (knee) are progressing well in rehabbing their injuries, Clouston said it's "too early to tell" when either will return to game action. "I know they’re a little further ahead than we expected at this time," he said. "I don’t think that’s a surprise with Alfie. And Spezz’s knee … I talked to him two days ago about his knee and he said he thinks it feels much better than even he expected." ... Senators forward Jarkko Ruutu on Kovalev's moonwalking talents: "I think it's pretty well done. What makes it even better is the white skates. It's special." ... Fewer than 750 tickets remain for Tuesday's matchup with the Bruins. Then the Senators play six of their next seven games on the road, starting with Thursday's visit to Washington to take on Alex Ovechkin and the Southeast Division-leading Capitals (7 p.m., TSN, Team 1200).