EDMONTON, AB -
Amidst trade deadline speculation and uncertainty, Edmonton’s veteran winger Ales Hemsky scored twice in the Oilers 3-2 win over the Ottawa Senators at Rexall Place.
“It’s hard not to think about it if you hear all the rumours and stuff like that but I’ve been in this situation for the last four years,” Hemsky said. “I just try to play my game and not to think about it and just enjoy it, like I said before. It was fun.”
Oilers Head Coach Dallas Eakins was thoroughly impressed with Hemsky’s game.
“There’s not much more that he could have done tonight,” Eakins said. “I thought he was absolutely excellent. He was energetic, he was entertaining to watch. Even behind the bench, the game’s not real entertaining but my eyes fixated on him a lot and once we shook up the lines a little bit there, we just didn’t seem to have anything going, he really started going. But I thought he was great right from the initial drop of the puck.”
At 5:22 of the opening frame, Jason Spezza scored to put the Senators up 1-0. Milan Michalek skated with the puck behind goaltender Ben Scrivens and then backhanded a pass right out in front for Spezza, who deflected it in for his 16th goal of the season.
Ales Hemsky would draw a tripping penalty at 12:55 of the first period and he’d be the Oiler to tie things up.
Hemsky drove straight down the right wing, deked, skated across the face of Senators goalie Craig Anderson and finished the play for his eight goal of the season. The power play goal, at 14:30, was assisted by Nail Yakupov and Andrew Ference.
“He’s a great player,” Taylor Hall said. “He’s a guy I always love playing with and he was a really good soldier for this organization for a long time. Guys like that don’t come along very much. If you play 12 years on a team, that’s something to be proud of. If he goes tomorrow, we wish him all the best because he’s a good guy and he helped me out when I first came to the league and it’ll be sad to see him go if he goes.”
Hemsky, an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season, was named the first star at the end of the game and received an ovation from the Edmonton crowd, in the form of his name being chanted.
“It’s great,” Hemsky said. “I don’t know what will happen but I had a great, great time here and the people treated me really well and I met a lot of great people so I really appreciate everything that they’ve done with me.”
Hemsky continued, “It’s definitely nice you know. It’s sad if it comes to the end but it is what it is. It’s business and I guess, we’ll see what happens tomorrow or tonight. I don’t know.”
With just over 13 minutes remaining in the second period, the Oilers crowd stood on their feet as Hall had a big opportunity to score on a breakaway. Hall ripped a shot just past Anderson’s toe but it hit the post and bounced out.
A nice passing play set up Hemsky for his second goal of the night, at 8:58 of the second period. Sam Gagner gave the puck to Hemsky, who fired a wrister through a screen by Hall. The puck went far side of Anderson and snuck inside the post for the go-ahead goal.
With 3:41 remaining in the middle frame, Scrivens robbed Ottawa’s Bobby Ryan on a shot, right in the goalie’s face. The big save stalled the Senators game-tying efforts.
Jordan Eberle pushed the Oilers lead to 3-1 at 4:26 of the third period. Eberle backhanded a pass to Boyd Gordon in the slot, Gordon shot the puck and it deflected off of a defenceman’s skate and out to Eberle, backdoor, who saw daylight and stuffed it in for the goal. Hall earned the second assist.
The Senators drew within one with under three minutes remaining as Erik Karlsson fired a shot high, blocker side of Scrivens. The goaltender got a piece of it but the shot skipped by him and into the back of the net. Marc Methot earned the assist.
However, the Oilers would hold on to skate away with victory. Scrivens made 36 saves, including 16 in the third period, in his first start since signing a two-year contract on Monday.
With the win, the Oilers ended their three-game losing streak and won their first game since returning from the Olympic break.
“It was nice,” Hall said. “Was it a perfect game? No, but it was a fun game to play in, that’s for sure. It seemed like there were a lot of chances both ways and, at the end of the day, we got a ‘W’ and we can’t say that on a lot of nights this year.”