Chris Kelly had to wait 434 games to record his first NHL hat trick, but he made it count by lifting the goal-starved Ottawa Senators to a 3-1 victory over the New York Rangers last night.
The 30-year-old center, in his seventh season with the Senators, accomplished the feat with a slick shorthanded goal, the go-ahead tally in the closing minutes of the third period, and an empty net score. The visiting Senators hadn't scored in more than 200 minutes before Kelly's first goal.
"I scored a hat trick this preseason but the guys said that didn't count, so I have to go back to juniors for my last one," said Kelly. "It sure felt good to get one for real in the NHL."
Kelly, who doubled his season goal total to six, recalled that a 2-0 Ottawa victory at Madison Square Garden on Jan. 14 propelled the Senators on a team-record, 11-game winning streak last season.
"Hopefully this is the start of another good run for us," he said. "We've really struggled of late, so this win is very important."
The Senators had been shut out in their previous two games, both played in Ottawa. Brandon Prust scored a shorthanded goal for the Rangers, who lost for only the third time in nine games.
"We played hard. I thought the guys persevered," Senators coach Cory Clouston said. "This is a building where it's hard to get momentum. The crowd gets into it. We wanted to make sure we got pucks in deep. We did that."
Rangers coach John Tortorella was perplexed by his team's lethargic play in a rare 5 p.m. start.
"That better not be a reason for our slow start," he said. "We were off balance and asleep for the first 20 minutes. Even with that, this was a winnable game."
Rangers forward Ryan Callahan was also baffled and frustrated by the lack of offense.
"You go in and prepare the same way, but for whatever reason, we didn't get the start we need," he said "We had a better second and third, but our start definitely has to be better."
In other games:
* At Chicago, Dave Bolland scored two power-play goals, and the Blackhawks overcame the loss of star forward Patrick Kane in the opening minute to beat the Calgary Flames, 4-2. Bryan Bickell and Jonathan Toews also scored power-play goals for Chicago.
Kane, who scored the Stanley Cup-winning goal against the Flyers last June, sustained an undisclosed lower body injury 46 seconds into the game and didn't return.
Jarome Iginla and Anton Babchuk scored on the power play for the Flames, as all six of the game's goals were scored on power plays. Chicago rookie Corey Crawford started in goal for the fourth time in five games and made 24 saves.
Kane spun and fell awkwardly along the right wing boards while he was trying to avoid a check by Flames defenseman Cory Sarich. He needed assistance as he skated off the ice.
* At Anaheim, Ilya Bryzgalov shut out his former team for the third time since leaving, Taylor Pyatt scored on a deflection, Shane Doan connected during a power play and Lee Stempniak scored into an empty net to lead the Phoenix Coyotes to a 3-0 victory over the Ducks. Bryzgalov made 39 saves for his second shutout of the season and 18th of his NHL career.
Before the game, former Flyer Joffrey Lupul was activated by the Ducks from the long-term injury list after missing nearly a year following back surgery and a subsequent infection. He played in his first NHL game since Dec. 8, 2009.
* At Vancouver, Alexander Steen scored two goals, including the game-winner in the third period, and aisted on another as the St. Louis Blues topped the Canuicks, 3-2. Jaraslav Halak stopped 21 shots in the Blues' goal.