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Kovalev nets four as Senators outscore Flyers

by Brian Hunter
It hasn't been a consistent first season with his new team for Alex Kovalev. But when the Ottawa Senators forward finds his scoring touch, he's still capable of putting together a huge game.

Kovalev erupted for four goals Sunday afternoon and added an assist for a five-point effort and Chris Kelly contributed two goals and an assist as the Senators recovered from blowing a three-goal lead to top the Philadelphia Flyers 7-4 at Scotiabank Place.

"All I can say is that it's a good way to start 2010," Kovalev said.

Jarkko Ruutu also scored for Ottawa, which leads Philadelphia by seven points in the Eastern Conference standings. Ryan Shannon and Anton Volchenkov each contributed three assists and Brian Elliott stopped 10 of 11 shots in a game that saw both starting goaltenders pulled by midway through the second period.

Kovalev completed his second hat trick of the season and put the Senators ahead 5-4 at 2:57 of the third. Erik Karlsson moved in from the right point and took a shot that Flyers goalie Brian Boucher stopped. Shannon got his stick on the rebound and it trickled over to the left side of the net, where Kovalev got a couple of whacks at it before putting it in.

Kelly added some insurance at 6:17 with his second of the day, then Kovalev let a wrist shot rip and beat Boucher with 7:02 remaining for his first career four-goal game.

"It figures, my first game ever having two goals and he has four, but what are you going to do?" Kelly said. "It was a good win by us. We got off to a good start, kind of lapsed there in the second, but came out in the third and found a way to win."

Kovalev has 11 goals in his first season with Ottawa. He's only scored in two of his last 28 games dating back to Oct. 31; ironically, that was also a hat trick against Carolina on Dec. 12, featuring his 400th NHL goal.

"Hopefully, that's the way it's going to go for me the rest of the season," Kovalev 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. I've been chasing that for many games."

Ian Laperriere, Darroll Powe, Arron Asham and Mike Richards all scored for the Flyers, who were coming off a 2-1 overtime loss to Boston in the 2010 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic on Monday.

Laperriere got Philadelphia on the board at 2:10 of the first, but Ottawa stormed back with four straight goals. Kovalev and Kelly scored to give the Senators a 2-1 lead and chase Flyers goalie Michael Leighton before 10 minutes had elapsed. Ruutu beat Boucher just 80 seconds after he entered in relief and Kovalev's second of the period made it 4-1 after 20 minutes.

"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 in the second."

The Flyers roared right back in the middle period, as goals by Powe and Asham led the Senators to pull Pascal Leclaire in favor of Elliott. He turned in the best goaltending performance of the day, although Philadelphia did pull even at 12:17 when Richards took advantage of a 5-on-3 power play to net the tying goal.

"It was a weird game all around," Boucher said. "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. It's disappointing to come back and lose like that."

Material from wire services was used in this report.

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