Vermette's hat trick beats Senators

Don Brennan, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

OTTAWA -- Center Antoine Vermette of the Phoenix Coyotes came back to haunt his old team Saturday at Canadian Tire Centre.
Vermette scored with 2:13 left in regulation to tie the score and again at 2:23 of overtime to end the day as Phoenix snapped a three-game losing streak with a 4-3 victory over the Ottawa Senators.
Vermette, who was drafted by the Senators and spent five years with the organization, also had the Coyotes' first goal, as the rebounded from a 2-0 deficit in the second period.
With the hat trick, the 31-year old has three goals and four assists in five career games versus the Senators.
"It's not something I was thinking about," Vermette said of the fact the Senators were the only team he had never scored against entering the day.
"I just tried to go in and play a good game, try to help my team win a little bit. It just happened this way today."
Winger Radim Vrbata also scored for Phoenix, while Ottawa goals were scored by centers Kyle Turris and Zack Smith, and defenseman Marc Methot.
While Senators goalie Craig Anderson stopped 34 shots, Phoenix goalie Mike Smith made 36 saves, including a miraculous toe stop against Senators winger Clarke MacArthur right before Vermette's winner.
"That's normally what happens, it goes back the other way and they get one," MacArthur said. "I'd love to have that shot back, obviously. It came off the pad so quick, it kind of caught me off guard, too. I just tried to shoot it as quick as I could.
"He made a couple of really big saves to kind of secure the win."
Turris deflected in a shot by Methot to give the Senators only their 13th 1-0 lead of the season on the power play at 6:14 of the opening period.
Smith stepped out of the box to take a pass from defenseman Eric Gryba ad beat Mike Smith with a stick side shot to put Ottawa up by two goals early in the second.
But the Coyotes bounced back to knot the count with goals 3:19 apart by Vermette, on a 2-on-1 break, and Vrbata, on the power play.
Even when Methot put Ottawa in front again with a little more than five minutes to go in the middle period, the Coyotes would not lie down.
"When you're in a little bit of a slide, it's a character win when you're down," Phoenix defenseman Keith Yandle said. "Everyone did a good job getting into it and finding a way to get the win.
"There was a lot of desperation in the third when we were trying to find ourselves a goal and get back into the game. When it's crunch time, it amps up a little bit, but it's fun."
The Senators have lost three in a row, including two straight at home. Against the Coyotes, their power play clicked on only 1-of-7 chances, while their penalty killers surrendered two on six Phoenix opportunities with the man advantage.
Vermette's game tying goal was scored with one of Ottawa's shorthanded specialists, winger Erik Condra, in the box for high sticking.
"It's a tough one to swallow," Anderson said. "We had the game with the lead, then a penalty ... we've got to kill those off. At the same time, we had a couple of chances on the power play in that third period, if we're able to get another one, maybe it's a non-issue."
"You don't always score on the power play and you can't always kill them all. But it's one of those things where special teams could have made the difference tonight."
NOTES: Senators D Cody Ceci led the team with 7:43 of ice time in the first period. Playing his sixth game since being recalled from Binghamton of the AHL, Ceci turned 20 on Saturday. He is one of only 18 players to skate in their first NHL game with Ottawa as a teenager. ... Coyotes G Mike Smith was given a roughing minor for a second period goal crease tussle with Senators RW Chris Neil. Smith has 10 penalty minutes this season, tying for 11th most on the team. ... Coyotes C Antoine Vermette won two offensive zone faceoffs in overtime and finished with a team-high 59 percent success rate in the circles. Vermette's 57.5 percent rate this season leads players in the NHL who have taken at least 800 draws. ... Senators D Marc Methot was originally credited with both the first and third goals, but after the game the first was given to C Kyle Turris. The change cost Methot both the first power play goal and first multi-goal game of his 355-game career. ... The Coyotes finish a four-game trip when they visit the Buffalo Sabres on Monday. The Senators host the Pittsburgh Penguins on Monday.

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