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Hemsky scores twice as Oilers top Senators

by Derek Van Diest

EDMONTON -- One of Ales Hemsky's best performances with the Edmonton Oilers this season may very well have been his last.

Hemsky scored two goals to lead the Oilers to a 3-2 win against the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday at Rexall Place. Hemsky, an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season, is expected to be traded by the Oilers prior to the NHL Trade Deadline at 3 p.m. ET on Wednesday.

"It is hard not to think about it when you are hearing all the rumors, but I have been in this situation for the last four years," Hemsky said. "I just tried to play my game and not think about it. It was fun. I don't know what will happen, but I had a great time here, and the people treated me very well in Edmonton. I met a lot of great people and really appreciate everything they have done for me.

"It was definitely a nice game for me if it was my last one here, but it is still sad if it comes to an end. It is what it is; it is a business. We'll see what happens."

Jordan Eberle also scored for the Oilers, who snapped a three-game losing streak (0-1-2). Jason Spezza and Erik Karlsson scored for the Senators.

Oilers goalie Ben Scrivens made 34 saves. Craig Anderson stopped 27 shots for the Senators.

"There is not much more that [Hemsky] could have done tonight," Oilers coach Dallas Eakins said. "He was absolutely excellent. He was energetic and entertaining to watch. I found my eyes fixated on him a lot. I thought he was great from the initial drop of the puck."

Spezza opened the scoring at 5:22 of the first period, converting a Milan Michalek centering feed from the slot. The Senators controlled the play in the early stages; the Oilers did not record their first shot on net until there were less than nine minutes left in the first period.

"It's a very disappointing loss. We missed a good opportunity to make up some points," Spezza said. "I don't think we were good enough in the first and second period. We weren't doing a good enough job of getting zone time in their end, we weren't there long enough and forcing them to pay defense. We got the first one, and then we were a little bit flat through the first period. You have to give them credit too, they defended well. But I still think we needed to find a better way to stay in that game."

Hemsky responded at 14:30 with the Oilers on the power play, getting around Senators defenseman Chris Phillips before cutting to the net and tucking a shot underneath Anderson.

In the second period, Hemsky gave the Oilers the lead at 8:58, taking a drop pass from Sam Gagner and snapping a shot past Anderson. It was the first time this season Hemsky has scored two goals in a game.

Earlier in the period, Hemsky was able to avoid a big hit from Senators right wing Chris Neil that had hearts skipping beats in the building. Neil had Hemsky lined up in the neutral zone, but let up on the play. Hemsky saw Neil at the last second and bailed on the hit. An injury to Hemsky would jeopardize any trade possibilities.

With the Oilers out of the playoff race, the team is looking to collect assets for their impending free agents.

"I wish it was a different situation and we were battling for the playoffs, and they were looking to sign me right now," Hemsky said. "But we are where we are."

Eberle made it 3-1 with his 20th goal at 4:24 of the third period. He broke out on a rush with Boyd Gordon, who took a drop pass from Eberle. Gordon's shot hit a skate on the way to the net and rolled to Eberle, who stuffed it past Anderson.

"It's got to be tough for [Hemsky]," Eberle said. "For the past four years since I have been here, his name has been on the list of guys on the trade block. That can't be easy, especially with so much social media now. For him to come out and give a performance like that at a time like this, it is awesome."

Karlsson, the NHL scoring leader among defenseman, cut the lead to 3-2 with a goal off on an individual rush at 17:05. He gained the zone and fired a shot through Scrivens.

"We started well and then we started trading chances with them, and we really couldn't keep up," Karlsson said. "Their goalie obviously made some huge saves for them, and we couldn't put it in the net obviously. I think we could have played a little bit smarter.

"They're a young, skilled team, and if you start going back and forth, they're going to make you pay, and that's what they did. We just couldn't bury the chances we had. Overall, I thought we played pretty well and created the chances we wanted, we just couldn't find the back of the net."

Moments prior to Karlsson's goal, Oilers defenseman Nick Schultz had cleared a puck off the goal line behind Scrivens. The Oilers managed to hang on to the win as the Senators pressed with a late power play.

If Hemsky is traded Wednesday, he finish his career with the Oilers having played 652 regular-season games with the team, scoring 142 goals and 335 assists for 477 points.

"Hemsky is a great player and a guy I always love to play with," Oilers left wing Taylor Hall said. "He has been a really good soldier for this organization for a long time. Guys like that don't come very often. You play 11 years for a team, that is something to be proud of. If he goes [Wednesday], we wish him all the best. He is a good guy who helped me out when I came to the League, and it will be sad to see him go, if he goes."

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