Things finally turned around during a big night on home ice.
Heatley scored three goals and tied an Ottawa record with four points in the second period, leading the Senators to a 6-3 victory over the Buffalo Sabres on Wednesday night.
His sixth career hat trick—including a NHL-high three this season—ended his five-game goal drought since Dec. 21, when Spezza injured his knee during a loss to Tampa Bay.
“We got the win. It was fun,” Heatley said. “You’re working hard the last four or five games and it’s not really bouncing for you, but that’s the way the game works. They all catch up sometimes.”
Heatley also combined with newcomer Mike Comrie to set up a goal by Tom Preissing, tying his career high for points in a game and matching Alexei Yashin’s club record for most points in a period. He also tied the team record for goals in a frame.
“I think Dany works hard in a different way some nights, but I think now he’s on the puck more,” coach Bryan Murray said. “He’s trying to forecheck, he’s in around the net more battling for loose pucks, I think he’s going back a little deeper in his own end to get the puck going because we have that need, and he’s becoming a better all-around player as a result of it.”
Paul Gaustad spoiled Emery’s shutout bid 4:55 into the third with his seventh goal of the season, but Buffalo’s four-game winning streak was snapped.
Buffalo had earned 11 points in its previous six games (5-0-1).
Ottawa went 3-for-4 on the power play, and killed four of the Sabres’ five opportunities.
“We still are not there on special teams,” said Sabres co-captain Chris Drury, who sees time on the power-play and penalty-killing units. “We’ve got no one to blame or point fingers at other than our own special teams. They weren’t good enough.”
Heatley opened the scoring 4:53 into the second with his first short-handed goal of the season, batting his own rebound out of the air and over goalie Ryan Miller.
He made it 2-0 with an even-strength goal at 10:12, then set up Ottawa’s second power-play goal moments later. Heatley took a pass from Comrie behind the goal line before feeding Preissing, who beat Miller from the goal mouth at 12:20.
The crowd of 19,777 tossed a couple dozen baseball caps onto the ice after Heatley completed his third hat trick of the season with a power-play goal 16:30 into the second that made it 4-0.
With Spezza and Mike Fisher, Ottawa’s top two centers, out with knee injuries, and Antoine Vermette day to day with a hip problem, Senators general manager John Muckler acquired Comrie from Phoenix earlier Wednesday.
“Airline food doesn’t make the best pre-game meal,” said Comrie, who had to make connecting flights in Washington, D.C., and Toronto before arriving late in the afternoon. “(Muckler) called me this morning and asked if I was ready to play tonight. It was an exciting challenge and I’m happy to be a part of this organization.”
Comrie, who centered a line with Schaefer and Chris Neil, assisted on Preissing’s goal after he showcased a bit of his skill with some nifty plays earlier in the middle period.
He added his second assist as Redden scored Ottawa’s third power-play goal 13:15 into the third after Schaefer had a breakaway earlier in the period.
Miller had allowed only one goal in each of Buffalo’s previous three games. … It was Heatley’s fourth four-point game and second of the season. He had three goals and an assist in a 6-4 win at Florida on Nov. 24. … Comrie had seven goals and 13 assists in 24 games with Phoenix this season. … Senators C Serge Payer was a healthy scratch to make room for Comrie. … Yashin, now captain of the New York Islanders, had one goal and three assists with Ottawa in the second period of a 5-1 win over Carolina on Dec. 18, 1998.