Downcast before the final game of what had been a difficult road trip, the Ottawa Senators found a way to dig out a little momentum in the desert before heading home.
Cory Conacher scored at 2:48 of overtime, Jason Spezza completed a natural hat trick to erase a two-goal deficit and the Senators ended a four-game losing streak with a 4-3 win over the Phoenix Coyotes on Tuesday night.
”We came into this game with a little different attitude and it showed in most parts of the game,” Conacher said. ”Obviously, we took five to 10 minutes off and they got a couple of goals, but for the most part I think that we showed we can be a really good team.”
Ottawa had gone through a rough opening stretch of the season, following a win over Buffalo with a 0-2-2 run heading into Tuesday’s game.
The players talked after their morning skate about trying to end the road trip on a positive note and did just that, rallying from a 2-0 deficit behind Spezza’s fifth career hat trick.
Even after Phoenix tied it late in regulation, the Senators didn’t let down, pulling out the two points on Conacher’s one-timer on a pass from Marc Methot in the extra period.
Milan Michalek added a pair of assists for Ottawa, which will open its home season Thursday against New Jersey after earning six of a possible 12 points on the road trip.
”We’re excited to get home, excited to play our home opener,” Spezza said. ”We’ve played six games now and we haven’t played at home. We’re excited to play in front of our fans, see our families, play in our own arena.”
Coming off a five-game road trip, the Coyotes knew they had a tough night ahead of them, expecting to be tired and the Senators to play angry.
Phoenix couldn’t match Ottawa’s intensity early, but managed to keep it scoreless after an ugly first period and went up 2-0 early in the second on quick goals by Rob Klinkhammer and Radim Vrbata.
The Coyotes responded after Spezza’s hat trick, tying it on Mike Ribeiro’s first goal with the team, but couldn’t finish it off in overtime to end a three-game winning streak.
”What you try to do in a game like that, everyone in your group is contributing a little bit,” Coyotes coach Dave Tippett said.
”Maybe not to their normal standard, but everybody’s got to contribute a little bit. The problem tonight was probably half a dozen guys didn’t contribute much at all and that’s where you come up a little bit short.”
The Senators were coming off a pair of ugly losses, allowing a combined 106 shots against San Jose and Anaheim.
Goalie Craig Anderson didn’t last long in the loss to the Ducks, pulled after giving up two goals on nine shots in the first four minutes.
Ottawa was much better in its own end early against the Coyotes, allowing one shot in the first 14 minutes while outshooting Phoenix 12-4 in the first period.
”Coming off a road trip, you always want to have a good start at home, but we were lucky to come away from that 0-0,” Coyotes defenseman Michael Stone said.
The Coyotes changed things in a hurry at the start of the second period.
Phoenix created a couple of quick scoring chances and Klinkhammer turned one into his third goal of the season, punching in a rebound less than 90 seconds into the period.
Vrbata followed with his fourth goal 1:12 later, wristing a shot from the left circle that Anderson had trouble seeing through traffic.
The Senators managed to gather themselves after the flurry.
Ottawa pulled within 2-1 when Spezza punched in his second goal of the season after a shot by Patrick Wiercioch slid under Smith and bounced between the goalie’s skates.
Spezza had another easy chance on his second goal of the game early in the third period, shooting to an empty net after Smith went out of his crease to play the puck, but had to let it go after it crossed out of the trapezoid in the corner.
Spezza completed the natural hat trick a few minutes later on a power play, ripping a slap shot from the right circle past Smith’s stick side.
The Coyotes picked up the pressure late and tied it on Ribeiro’s redirect, but Conacher ended it in overtime, sending the Senators home happy.
”Now we’re heading home and hopefully we can put together some games,” Spezza said. ”Getting those two points gives us a lot of confidence.”
Notes: Milan Michalek went up 18-17-1 in his head-to-head matchup with older brother Zbynek, Phoenix defenseman, with the Senators’ win. … Coyotes LW Mikkel Boedker had his 100th career point with an assist on Vrbata’s goal. … Coyotes D Derek Morris did not play due to an upper-body injury.