Hockey

Sens' Kovalev lashes out at criticism

Ottawa Senators forward Alex Kovalev feels that he has been made the fall guy for the team's recent troubles.

Senators forward Alex Kovalev feels that he has been made the fall guy for the team's recent troubles.

The struggling veteran played on the fourth line in Ottawa's 5-3 loss to the New York Rangers on Thursday night. The Senators have fallen down the Eastern Conference standings with just one victory in their last six games.

On Friday, Kovalev was asked by reporters whether head coach Cory Clouston is making him the scapegoat.

"It looks like it right now," Kovalev said. "I'm not the only one not playing well. So there's nothing I can do about it. He decided to pick me. So like I said, it's been happening all of my career so I'll accept that."

Entering play Friday night against the visiting New Jersey Devils, Kovalev has recorded just 14 points (7-7) in 30 games this season.

He has been the target of regular criticism by fans for not doing enough to earn his $5-million US contract this year.

"I wish people would stop picking my brain and just let me play the way I can," Kovalev said without elaborating.

The veteran winger isn't the only Ottawa player having a tough time finding the back of the net. The Senators (12-16-2) have scored only 24 goals over their last 15 games entering play Friday.

Kovalev has recorded 1,004 points (419-585) over 1,258 career NHL regular-season games with Ottawa, Montreal, the New York Rangers and Pittsburgh.

He has 98 points (44-54) in 116 career playoff games.

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