Rough ride for Senators

Leafs' Francois Beauchemin (right) fights Sens sniper Alexei Kovalev during second period...

Leafs' Francois Beauchemin (right) fights Sens sniper Alexei Kovalev during second period pre-season NHL action at Scotiabank Place on Wednesday. (QMI Agency/Darren Brown)

BRUCE GARRIOCH, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:19 AM ET

OTTAWA - Even a rare Alexei Kovalev fight couldn't give the Senators the spark they needed in a 4-3 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs Wednesday night at Scotiabank Place.

While fans will talk about the second-period dustup involving Kovalev, Phil Kessel scored the Leafs' third power-play goal with 1:50 left to provide the win.

"It was just entertainment," said Kovalev. "Everybody was excited. You don't see Alex Kovalev fight too often."

Nazem Kadri's second goal of the game tied it up 3-3 at 14:10 of the third as he banged in his own rebound into a wide-open net came. Daniel Alfredsson had given the Senators a 3-2 lead at 1:06.

Pascal Leclaire faced just 19 shots. He did make a breakaway stop on Nikolai Kulemin in the second with the Leafs short-handed and up 2-0.

There was some concern when Kulemin clipped Leclaire, who went down in a heap behind the net. He was up not long after. Given the goalie's injury history, you're always left to wonder.

"It's unfortunate to lose a game that way," said Leclaire. "We were in pretty good shape and it kind of slipped away from us. There was a couple of weird bounces and the last one was tipped as well.

"It's always frustrating. It's an exhibition game so we can learn from our mistakes. The bad bounces are better off now than next week."

Coach Cory Clouston wanted the "competitiveness" level to increase. It took a while, but the message appeared to get through in the second period when Ottawa outshot Toronto 12-6.

"I'm not satisfied with all of us for the most part. We've got to be better," said Clouston.

Kovalev dropped the gloves and took on Francois Beauchemin midway through the second, following a hit by Jay Rosehill on Erik Karlsson.

The Senators winger absorbed a few punches and didn't really land any. It was Kovalev's fourth career fight and first since March 25, 2006 against Darcy Tucker.

"(Kovalev) said in between, 'It's been a while. I think I was 21 when I did that,' said Senators defenceman Matt Carkner. "Beauchemin is pretty tough. I wanted to leave the bench, but I don't know how many games you get for that. It was good. I gave him a tap on the pads."

Looking like they were down and out, the Senators tied it up 2-2 in a wild second period. Chris Campoli scored on a shot from the point that beat J.S. Giguere glove side with Kovalev providing a screen at 17:10.

Milan Michalek had brought the Senators to within a goal at 9:12 of the second.

The Senators were their own worst enemies in the first period, with Kadri and Kulemin scoring on the power play. With the Senators caught flat-footed, Kadri went to the front of the net alone and redirected a pass from Beauchemin past Leclaire high on the stick side at 19:23.

Earlier, Kulemin took a trip through the slot and beat Leclaire with a backhander on the stick side at 8:08, with Jason Spezza in the box.

With 32 players left in camp, there are not many decisions left to be made before final cuts Sunday. Defencemen Jared Cowen, Patrick Wiercioch and David Hale and forward Bobby Butler are all on the bubble.

They won't have many more chances to impress with only two games left in the pre-season. Hale wasn't in the lineup, while Wiercioch and Cowen were both given a significant chance to impress.

The Senators open up a back-to-back series against the New York Rangers Friday at Madison Square Garden. The teams play here Saturday.


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