Defencemen lead the way as Oilers continue mastery over slumping Senators


OTTAWA — Goals by defenceman Darnell Nurse, Evan Bouchard and Tyson Barrie lifted the Edmonton Oilers to a 3-2 win Tuesday over the Ottawa Senators.

Others took up the slack as Edmonton’s big guns were held off the scoresheet. ending 10-game points streaks for both Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, who hit the post with the net empty in the dying seconds.

Ottawa, looking to dig itself out of a deep early-season hole, didn’t make it easy.

The win moved the Oilers (8-7-0) above the .500 mark for the first time this season, largely due to their success against Ottawa (2-11-1), which came into the game leading the league in hits but not much else.

It marked the fourth meeting between the two in 10 days. Edmonton won the first three — 8-5 and 4-2 in Edmonton and 3-1 Monday at the Canadian Tire Centre. They will meet five more times during the regular season.

Connor Brown and Evgenii Dadonov scored for Ottawa.

For the second night in a row, the Senators battled hard but without much to show for it. Conceding a couple of weak goals didn’t help.

Ottawa replaced goaltender Marcus Hogberg with Matt Murray at 3:53 of the second period after the Oilers went up 3-1. Hogberg stopped 10-of-13 shots.

Trailing 3-1 going into the third, the Sens cut the deficit to one when a stretch pass from Mike Reilly sent Dadonov in on a breakaway. He beat Mikko Koskinen at 1:20 for his second goal in as many nights.

Ottawa has lost three straight and 12 of its last 13 — including 11 in regulation. Its lone wins came in the season opener Jan. 15 against Toronto and Feb. 4 against Montreal.

Edmonton has won two straight and five of its last six.

Koskinen returned in goal for Edmonton, after giving way Monday to Mike Smith who was impressive in his season debut after being sidelined by injury.

The six-foot-seven Koskinen, in his 13th outing of the season. had a rough start with Brown tipping a shot home a Nikita Zaitsev shot from the point just 26 seconds in on Ottawa’s first shot on goal.

Hogberg’s turn came at 4:11 when a hard Nurse shot leaked through the five-hole after a Josh Archibald drop pass. It was Nurse’s fifth of the season, matching his 2019-20 total over 71 games, and fourth in five games — also his third against the Senators.

Hogberg showed more mettle in a fine stop on Ryan Nugent-Hopkins after a Thomas Chabot turnover at the blue line gave McDavid the puck. But the six-foot-five Swede was beaten again at 17:19, unable to find Bouchard’s wrist shot from the point through five bodies.

Oilers coach Dave Tippett put McDavid and Draisaitl together in the first in a bid to slow the Sens progress.

McDavid had 22 points (six goals, 16 assists) while Draisaitl had 20 (eight goals, 12 assists) over their previous 10 games.

The second period was delayed by a problem with the ice, apparently involving a leaking ice resurfacer, with one arena worker directing a fire extinguisher at the playing surface.

Barrie hastened Hogberg’s exit with the Oilers’ third goal, watching the goaltender slide out of position as he delayed his shot.

Ottawa had its chances in the second, outshooting Edmonton 14-3, but was unable to convert on a double high-sticking minor against Archibald.

McDavid had one goal and six assists in the previous three games against Ottawa while Draisaitl had two goals and seven assists.

The 24-year-old McDavid, in his sixth NHL season, started the game at 496 career points — 171 goals and 325 assists.

Ottawa was without the injured Erik Brannstrom while Zack Kassian, injured in a fight Monday, was absent for the Oilers.

The Senators start a five-game road trip Thursday, with two games in Winnipeg followed by three in Toronto. Edmonton wraps up its four-game road trip Thursday in Montreal.