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Spezza scores hat trick in Senators' OT win

The SportsXchange

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- At the conclusion of the Ottawa Senators' longest road trip of the season, coach Paul MacLean praised his team for exhibiting a strong character and work ethic.

Those important variables helped the Senators snap a four-game losing streak Tuesday, as Cory Conacher scored at 2:48 of overtime to give the Senators a 4-3 victory over the Phoenix Coyotes.

Positioned to the right of Phoenix goalie Mike Smith, Conacher converted a perfect pass from Marc Methot at the left point into his second goal of the season.

"(Methot) took a great shot from the point, and I was in a position to get the puck down low," Conacher said. "The pass was terrific because (Methot) found the back door and made it easy. Overall, I thought the win was important because this showed we can be a good team."

Down 2-0, the Senators forged ahead on three consecutive goals from captain Jason Spezza.

"The win gives the guys confidence going home," said MacLean, whose team went 2-2-2 on the season-opening trip. "This also showed how resilient this team is and how it rebounds."

Spezza cut the Coyotes' 2-0 lead in half at 8:42 of the second period.

Early in the third, Spezza capitalized on a giveaway from goalie Mike Smith. Failing to clear the puck behind his net, Smith gave up the puck to Colin Greening, who hit Spezza with a perfect pass in the slot. Spezza buried his second of the game and third of the season at 1:50 to tie the game.

Spezza put Ottawa on top 3-2 with a power-play goal at 7:19, completing his fifth career hat trick. The last came Feb. 14, 2012, in a road game against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The Coyotes rallied to force overtime late in the third. With Ottawa defenseman Chris Phillips in the penalty box for interference, Oliver Ekman-Larsson's blast from the left point was tipped in Mike Ribeiro with 3:30 left in regulation, tying the score at 3.

Despite getting outshot 12-4 in the first period, the Coyotes struck early in the second and created needed separation.

Rob Klinkhammer and Radim Vrbata scored within 1:23 early in the second, and the Coyotes jumped out to a two-goal advantage.

Center Antoine Vermette won a draw to the left of goalie Craig Anderson and fed Klinkhammer, who was in perfect position to rip in a shot from 10 feet in the slot.

Less than two minutes later, Mikkel Boedker dropped a pass in the slot for Vrbata, and the 32-year-old right wing deposited a wrist shot into the upper right corner of the Senators' net. The goal was Vrbata's first since he had a hat trick on opening night at home against the New York Rangers.

Although the Coyotes blew a 2-0 lead in their first game back home following a five-game road trip, there was some satisfaction in reaching overtime.

"This is the challenge a team faces coming off a long trip," Phoenix coach Dave Tippett said. "In a game like this, you want to make sure everyone contributes a little. We didn't play all that well, but we'll take the point and move on."

After allowing a franchise-high 56 shots on net Sunday in a loss to the Anaheim Ducks, the Ottawa defense showed up at Jobing.com Arena.

With strong backchecking and puck pursuit, the Senators limited Phoenix to four shots in the opening period. The first shot came nearly 12 minutes into the game, and that was a loose puck off the stick of Mike Ribeiro that slid into the crease.

The tight-checking Senators also held the Coyotes to no goals on two power-play attempts in the opening frame.

"We did not play very well at the start and (were) fortunate to have the score 0-0 after the first period," Phoenix defenseman Michael Stone said. "Going forward, we need to have a greater level of consistency."

NOTES: The Senators play their home opener Thursday against the New Jersey Devils. ... Spezza is the Senators' eighth captain. He has the "C" following a 13-year reign by Daniel Alfredsson. ... Ottawa D Chris Phillips is second behind franchise-leader Alfredsson in games played. ... Tippett coached his 301st game for Phoenix. Only Bob Francis and Wayne Gretzky spent more games behind the Coyotes' bench. ... Among active coaches, Tippett trails only the Red Wings' Mike Babcock in victories.
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