Spezza’s hat trick propels Senators past Penguins

OTTAWA (Ticker) — Jason Spezza recorded his second career hat
trick as the Ottawa Senators cooled off the Pittsburgh Penguins
with a 3-2 victory on Saturday.

Alex Auld stopped 17 shots and Dany Heatley notched a pair of
assists for the Senators, who won for just the fourth time in
their last 10 games (4-4-2).

“It was nice to see Spezza have a good game like that,” Ottawa
captain Daniel Alfredsson said. “I think overall today, we did
a good job with the puck. We didn’t turn it over much and we
forced them to play in their own end quite a bit. The only time
they had some possession was on the power play, and our
penalty-killers did a good job. And (Auld) played well, too.”

Spezza hopes the win over the reigning Eastern Conference
champion Penguins can be a springboard for the rest of the

“They’re one of the best teams in the East, and they’re a team
that we know if you want to win, you’re probably going to have
to go through, so we just have to make up points in the
standings,” Spezza said. “We’ve kind of put ourselves in a bit
of a spot, and now we’re slowly getting ourselves out of it.”

Evgeni Malkin and Jordan Staal each registered a goal and an
assist for the Penguins, who had won 10 of their previous 14

Spezza scored his ninth goal of the season on a wraparound at
4:01 of the second, then gave Ottawa a 2-0 lead by blasting a
loose puck in the slot past goaltender Dany Sabourin nearly five
minutes later.

“We knew we had to have a good game, and for me, it’s nice to
get a few goals and contribute to the win,” Spezza said. “All
in all, I thought we played a great team game and did a really
good job.”

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Pittsburgh pulled within 2-1 as Staal tipped in a pass from
captain Sidney Crosby with 3:43 left in the period.

Spezza restored the two-goal bulge with 39 seconds remaining in
the period on a fluke play. His pass from behind the net hit
Pittsburgh defenseman Kris Letang’s skate, deflected upward and
bounced off Sabourin’s arm and in.

“(Spezza) passed it and (Letang) was going to put some pressure
on him and it hit his skate and bounced off of me,” Sabourin
said. “It’s a tough play because I have to get going for the
pass, but it was a good bounce for them.

“Sometimes when you’re hot, you find the spots or you get some
good bounces, and when you’re a good player like him, you tend
to get more sometimes.”

Spezza’s final tally proved to be a crucial, as Malkin scored
while shorthanded at 9:12 of the third. The Penguins pulled
Sabourin with 40 seconds left but could not get the equalizer.

“Being .500 is not where we want to be,” Senators coach Craig
Hartsburg said. “We’ve climbed back and now we want to move
forward. It was a big win for our team.”

Sabourin stopped 28 shots for Pittsburgh, which managed just
five shots in the third period.

“I thought we played really well defensively, especially when
you look at who we were playing against,” Auld said. “An effort
like that helps build the confidence, and we’re feeling pretty
good about our game right now.”

“We didn’t start well and Spezza had a big second period and
gave them the lead,” Crosby said. “It’s a matter of momentum a
lot of times, and we just weren’t able to get any.”