Zibanejad’s natural hat trick leads Senators past Flames
CALGARY, Alberta — Mika Zibanejad’s history-making scoring binge led the Ottawa Senators to a stunning comeback victory.
Zibanejad scored three times in a team-record span of 2:38 in the third period in Ottawa’s 6-4 win over the Calgary Flames on Saturday night.
"I tell myself to shoot a little bit more," Zibanejad said. "That first one, I just threw it at the net and it went in."
With Ottawa trailing 4-2, Zibanejad got the Senators’ rally started at 6:10, beating Joni Ortio on a wrist shot.
At 7:59, he tied the game by scoring into an empty net after Ortio appeared to be interfered with by Bobby Ryan. However, the contact happened outside the crease and the goal was allowed to stand after Flames coach Bob Hartley challenged it.
Zibanejad capped his first career three-goal game — a natural hat trick — 49 seconds later, chipping the puck into the net from in close.
It was the fastest three straight goals for the Senators since Marian Hossa did it in a 7:05 span on Jan. 2, 2003. At 22, Zibanejad also became the youngest to notch a hat trick for Ottawa since Martin Havlat on Feb. 22, 2004, when he was 23.
"When the goals come, you get a little bit more confident, you want the puck more," said Zibanejad, who entered the game with one goal in his previous 15 games.
Zack Smith, Nick Paul and Jean-Gabriel Pageau also scored for Ottawa, which has won five of its last six and remained six points back of the Pittsburgh Penguins for the second wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference.
"We told ourselves we had nothing to lose," said Senators captain Erik Karlsson, who had two assists. "We’re just going to go into the third and do everything we can. If we play in their zone, we’re going to have a chance. We ended up doing that for 20 minutes and we got away with two points."
Johnny Gaudreau had two goals and an assist, and Joe Colborne and Sean Monahan also scored for the Flames, who are winless in their last four.
"Turnovers, plain and simple," Flames coach Bob Hartley said of his team’s loss. "It’s unfortunate because we played an unbelievable first period."
The Flames’ dressing room remained closed for a long time after the game as Hartley held an impromptu meeting.
After Zibanejad’s go-ahead goal, a Flames jersey was tossed onto the ice from the crowd and quickly scooped up.
"It’s sad to see something like that, but we can’t control their actions and as a team we need to be better," Gaudreau said.
Pageau added an empty-netter with a minute left to cap the scoring.
On the day his linemate Jiri Hudler was traded to the Florida Panthers, Gaudreau didn’t miss a beat, extending his point streak to a career-best seven games. He has three goals and eight assists in that span.
Gaudreau’s first of the night came at 10:23 of the second. Giving Calgary a 3-1 lead, he darted in and from the face-off circle whipped a shot into the top corner.
After Paul drew the Senators back within one four minutes later, Gaudreau scored top corner again with 23 seconds left in the period to restore a two-goal cushion.
Craig Anderson had 34 saves for Ottawa, while Ortio made 20 stops.
Calgary got off to a fast start, getting goals 42 seconds apart from Colborne and Monahan early in the first period.
Smith’s power-play goal at 18:21 got the Senators on the scoreboard.
NOTES: Flames D Kris Russell (lower body) missed his seventh consecutive game. … RW David Jones took Hudler’s spot on the Flames’ top line with Gaudreau and Monahan. … The Senators announced that RW Chris Neil signed a one-year, $1.5 million contract extension. … Calgary D Dennis Wideman served the 13th game of a 20-game suspension.