OTTAWA – Two Ottawa Senators scored hat tricks but the goal that mattered came from Jesse Winchester on Saturday night.
Zack Smith and Chris Kelly had three goals apiece for Ottawa, and Winchester scored the game winner as the Senators beat the New York Rangers 8-5 in pre-season action.
Winchester deflected a shot from Peter Regin past Martin Biron at 14:12 in the third period, much to the delight of the 17,116 fans in attendance at Scotiabank Place.
“That was a great tip and a great shot by (Regin) and Jesse was in the right spot at the right time,” Kelly said. “That line (Winchester, Regin and David Hale) played well all night and they generated a lot of chances and they looked good.”
Smith and Kelly then each got their third goals of the game into an empty net.
“I didn’t realize until 10 or 15 seconds into the shift that they had even pulled the goalie,” said Kelly.
“We were up by two so I thought they were just going to play it out, but it was nice to get. Smitty does it so I better do it.”
Jarkko Ruutu also scored for the Senators who closed out the pre-season with a 3-4-1 record. Pascal Leclaire got the win despite allowing five goals on 30 shots.
Former Senator Todd White had two goals for the Rangers, who finish the pre-season with a 4-2-0 mark. They beat the Senators 5-4 in a shootout Friday night at Madison Square Garden.
Artem Anisimov, Derek Stepan and Mats Zuccarello also scored for the Rangers, who got a 20-save performance from Biron.
“It was a back-and-forth kind of game and I thought there was intensity both ways, but there were obviously some mistakes both ways that resulted in some goals,” White said.
“The guys worked hard all season. It’s been a tough camp with a lot of skating and now it’s time to gear up for the season.”
The teams combined for six goals in the second period as neither goaltender looked particularly solid in the net. Biron looked good outside it, however, as he fired a pass from the side of the crease to the Senators’ blue-line where Stepan corralled it and beat Leclaire from well out to tie the game 3-3.
“It wasn’t that good,” is how Leclaire rated his performance.
“Better to happen tonight than in a week, but I’m going to have to be better, I know that. At least we got the win and when you play that’s the most important thing. I know I did some bad things but now I have to forget about it and focus on tomorrow.”
Prior to the Stepan goal the Senators had taken leads of 2-1 and 3-2 on goals by Kelly and Smith with White sandwiching a goal in between for the Rangers.
White gave the Rangers a 4-3 lead shorthanded at 16:33 as Leclaire misplayed the puck behind his own net and was unable to recover in time. Ruutu redirected a puck past Biron while on his knees with 30 seconds left in the period to tie the game.
The teams were tied 1-1 after the first period as Kelly scored a short-handed goal for the Senators at 9:09 and Anisimov replied at 11:23 for the Rangers.
Notes: Both the Senators and Rangers will open the 2010-11 regular season against the Buffalo Sabres. The Senators will host the Sabres Oct.8 to start their season while the Rangers will open in Buffalo the following night. . . The Senators reduced their training camp roster by eight players Saturday, sending eight players to their farm team in Binghamton and defenceman Jared Cowen to the Spokane Chiefs of the Western Hockey League. Heading to the farm are goaltender Robin Lehner, defencemen Derek Smith and Patrick Wiercioch along with forwards Cody Bass, Bobby Butler, Ryan Keller, Francis Lessard and Corey Locke.