No Kovalev, no prayer

DON BRENNAN, Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 11:29 PM ET

Alex Kovalev’s utterly amazing streak was stopped at one Thursday.

So was his extremely modest run.

Kovalev, who snapped his pointless drought with an overtime goal very few people on the planet could score Tuesday in Washington, was held off the board in a 4-3 win in a shootout against the Hurricanes at Scotiabank Place Thursday night. So much for enigmatic winger rounding the corner, eh?

Kovalev did carry his hot hand into the morning skate, for what that’s worth.

During the stretching done around centre ice at each practice, Senators pass pucks to Kovalev, who then attempts another feat few, if anybody else, could pull off. From one knee at the blue line, he launches a puck toward the far net, aiming to land it on top and have it stay right there.

That’s right, from the praying position he shoots a puck 75 feet trying to not just hit the top of the cage, but also have it stick. Not a prayer, right?

“I don’t think I’ve ever even hit the top of the net,” said Ryan Shannon, who is tried the trick. “It’s an amazing angle, because you have to loft it so high for it to sit.”

Legend has it that Kovalev once hit the top of the net with three consecutive such attempts while with the Habs. Each one bounced off the mesh to the ice.

But hours before facing the Hurricanes, and for the first time all season, he sent a high saucer that found its target and stayed put.

Until Jason Spezza took it off, that is.

“He always misses it,” Kovalev said of Spezza. “He always watches me, waiting ...

“He started joking around and said maybe the (Kovalev instructional) DVD had special effects. I said to him, every time you don’t look, I always land one on it.”

“I told him (Thursday) that I landed on it and to go check it out.”

Kovalev guesses he has stuck maybe five pucks on the top of the net from that distance in his life.

“If you count my DVD,” he said.

Deceptive on DVD

But Spezza isn’t the only one who wonders about the sincerity of the shot on the DVD.

“His DVD is deceptive,” said Shannon. “I’ve seen him probably take 200 shots at it this year, and he’s hit it maybe three or four times. But in his DVD, with the miracle of video editing, it looks like he puts like 10 on in a row.”

Kovalev wows teammates with other such exhibits of his incredible skill level at practice, but this one takes the cake.

“It warms up your wrists for shooting,” Kovalev said of the drill. “It’s not easy to do. Nick Foligno is still trying to learn. It’s a quick wrist movement. It helps a lot for shooting and soft passes. I’ve worked on it a long time.

“Every little thing helps.”

Ironically enough, Kovalev did hit the top of the net with a scoring chance in the first period, and he rang a wrister off the post in the third. And, as per usual, he scored in the shootout.

But, on the heels of his slump-busting goal in Washington, he was unable to put the puck where he wanted it against the ’Canes during the game.

That’s something the Senators desperately need Kovalev to start doing in the playoffs. In fact, it could be the only way they have a prayer.

STARTS AND STOPS

Daniel Alfredsson had fun playing along with a CBC interview proclaiming him as a mayoral candidate for an April Fool’s Day joke. It did trick a few folks around town. “At Starbucks (Thursday morning) there was one girl who didn’t know who I was, and the other girl was jokingly saying ‘there’s the new mayor,’ ” Alfredsson said after the morning skate. “(The first girl) asked what I do now, until I take over the job. I said, I play hockey for a little bit. She’s like, ‘Okay’ ... she had no idea.” Asked how many games he thinks he has to play at Scotiabank Place before everybody in town recognizes him, Alfredsson chuckled. “Probably two more,” he said. Then he’ll have 1,000 games under his belt, but still no serious political aspirations. “I can’t say I have any at all,” he said ... Senators W Shean Donovan and his wife Teresa welcomed a new addition to their family Thursday: Trinity, a 6-pound, 9-ounce baby girl ... Senators prospect Mike Hoffman was named MVP of the QMJHL Thursday ... With three more assists, Jason Spezza now has 11 points in his last four games.

THE BUTLER DID IT

In his NHL debut, Senators W Bobby Butler tapped his stick on the ice looking for a pass quite a bit. Sounded like he also had a lot of supporters in the crowd, as we could have sworn the chant, “Bobby! Bobby!” started when he nearly sprung free for a second-period breakaway.

don.brennan@sunmedia.ca


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