The New York Rangers and Ottawa Senators both showed that their offense is ready for the start of the regular season. The defense? Not so much.
Two Senators, Zack Smith and Chris Kelly, completed hat tricks with empty-net goals after Jesse Winchester broke a 5-5 tie with 5:48 left in regulation to give the Senators an 8-5 victory over the Rangers on Saturday night in the preseason finale for both teams.
Winchester tipped Peter Regin's shot past Martin Biron to snap a 5-5 tie after the teams had combined to blow five one-goal leads. Mats Zuccarello had tied the game for the Rangers when he scored 6:13 into the third period.
"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."
Both Smith and Kelly then hit the empty net after the Rangers pulled Martin Biron (20 saves) for an extra attacker.
"I didn't realize until 10 or 15 seconds into the shift that they had even pulled the goalie," Kelly said. "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."
Former Senator Todd White had a pair of goals for the Rangers, and impressive rookie Derek Stepan scored for the third game in a row. White's second goal, at 16:33 of the second period, gave the Rangers a 4-3 lead, their only advantage of the night. Jarkko Ruutu tied it with 30 seconds left in the middle period.
Rangers enforcer Derek Boogaard was given a major and a game misconduct 12:55 into the first for spearing Ottawa's Chris Neil. Both Neil and Milan Michalek left the game in the second with lower body injuries. A team spokesman said both players were removed from the game for precautionary reasons.
Both teams start their season against Buffalo -- the Senators on Friday at home and the Rangers the next night in Buffalo.
"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 after the Rangers finished with a 4-2-0 preseason record. "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."
Islanders 2, Devils 1
The Islanders kept most of their regulars home and got their first preseason win thanks to Blake Comeau's tie-breaking goal late in the second period and 25 saves by Rick DiPietro.
John Tavares' perfect pass set up Comeau for the go-ahead goal at 17:25 of the second period, giving the Isles (1-4-0) a split of their home-and-home series with New Jersey, which won 4-3 on Friday night in Newark.
After New York's Josh Bailey and New Jersey's Zach Parise traded first-period goals, Comeau converted a pass from John Tavares into the go-ahead tally with 2:35 left in the middle period.
DiPietro, trying to make a comeback from yet another serious knee injury, went the distance for the Islanders and stopped 25 shots; his best was a sprawling stick save on Rod Pelley in the final seconds of the second period. Johan Hedberg made 21 saves for New Jersey.
Isles captain Doug Weight, who missed most of last season with a shoulder injury that required surgery, was stopped by Hedberg on an early breakaway before making a spin move at the left post and feeding Josh Bailey, who celebrated his 21st birthday with his first goal of the preseason at 5:47.
“Now he’s playing with full confidence, more than I’ve seen him play with in the past few years,” coach Scott Gordon said of Weight, now 40. “It’s very encouraging, I know it’s one thing to be a good leader in the room, but he wants to be successful on the ice. Not just be a leader by example in the room and practice, but also perform on the ice. That’s probably the closest to seeing Dougie at his best in these two exhibition games.”
Ilya Kovalchuk hit the post with a backhander on a penalty shot shortly after the Isles went ahead, but made a perfect pass to Zach Parise, who beat DiPietro from a sharp angle at 13:06 to get the Devils even.
"For the most part, it's been a positive camp, so that's good," Devils coach John MacLean said after his team went 2-1-3 on the preseason. "The guys worked hard. That's the part of training camp that is always pretty tough -- near the end. I'm sure everybody is glad it's over and now you can have something to focus on as far as starting on Monday."
The Devils and Islanders both open at home against Dallas -- New Jersey on Friday and the Isles on Saturday.
Canadiens 7, Islanders 2
A full house of 15,077 at the Pepsi Colisee in Quebec watched as the Canadiens got two goals apiece from Tomas Plekanec and Benoit Pouliot to beat the Islanders' split squad.
Despite the big win, the Canadiens could pay a price. Michael Cammalleri was handed a five-minute major and a game misconduct late in the second period for slashing Isles rookie Nino Niederreiter in the ankle. Niederreiter limped off and didn't return; the Islanders said via Twitter that he had a bruised ankle.
"I got an elbow first, then kind of got a stick," said Niederreiter, the fifth pick in the Entry Draft last June. "Then I was trying to get back in the play and got a cheap shot. It's preseason, but you should never do a cheap shot like that. He came from behind and I never expected to get slashed. It's not a good thing to do."
Cammalleri, P.K. Subban and Lars Eller also scored for Montreal (4-3-0) in its final preseason game before opening against Toronto on Thursday. Plekanec, who also had an assist, led the team with 6 goals and 3 assists in the preseason.
"You want to get a good feeling about your game and be ready for the first regular season game," said Plekanec, who looked particularly strong while with last season's linemates, Cammalleri and Andrei Kostitsyn.
Jon Sim and Jesse Joensuu scored for New York against Carey Price.
A perfect passing play from Kostitsyn to Plekanec to Cammalleri produced the first goal at 3:25, and a turnover let Jeff Halpern set up Pouliot for a goal 1:30 later. After Sim's goal, Subban and Plekanec each beat Manny Legace on power plays -- a good sign for a team that was 3-for-37 going into the game.
Plekanec scored again 2:42 into the third on the first shot against rookie Mikko Koskinen, Pouliot added another on a power play at 13:28 and rookie Eller got his first as a Canadien as he beat Koskinen with a wrist shot at 16:48 before Joensuu beat Price from the slot with 1:20 left.
"We're still in the evaluation process with certain guys," said Isles assistant Dean Chynoweth, who coached the club. "Having the lesser lineup you see guys in different situations against NHL guys so you can take what you want from it as a fan, but as a coaching staff we get an idea of where our younger players are at."
Maple Leafs 4, Red Wings 2
Toronto finished off a preseason that included nine games in 12 days by polishing off the less-than-full-strength Red Wings at the Air Canada Centre in the back end of a home-and-home series.
The Leafs got three assists from Phil Kessel and a goal and an assist from Tomas Kaberle and Kris Versteeg to beat a roster made up mostly of Detroit's AHL players, -- the night before, the Wings' regulars pasted the Leafs 7-3 in Detroit.
Cory Emmerton and Tomas Tatar had the Wings' goals.
Coach Ron Wilson used virtually the same starting lineup as he'll send out in Thursday's regular- season opener against Montreal -- and despite the win, he said he saw a few things he didn't like.
"We just haven't had time to do some things," he said. "That's what we'll focus on this week -- some little nuances, little bad habits that some guys have that we have to find a way to change."
The Wings did play starting goaltender Jimmy Howard, who was beaten three times on six power plays.
It was a productive exhibition season for the Leafs' top unit of Versteeg, Tyler Bozak and Phil Kessel, who hope their preseason chemistry carries over into the regular season.
"Me and Phil had never played with Kris," Bozak said. "I think gradually each game we got a lot better, knowing where each other was and things like that. I really think that pre-season means a lot, just getting chemistry with the team and the guys."
Lightning 4, Panthers 1
Tampa Bay completed a home-and-home sweep of its in-state rival behind two goals by Steven Stamkos and a goal and an assist by Vincent Lecavalier.
Stamkos broke a 1-1 tie at 7:22 of the second and made it 3-1 with a power-play goal at 9:20. Lecavalier had stopped the Panthers' stretch of 33 consecutive successful preseason penalty kills when he scored with the man advantage 4:32 into the second.
Sean Bergenheim also scored and Martin St. Louis added two assists for the Lightning, who played at home for the first time in the preseason.
"It's an exhibition, but the first time in front of your fans," coach Guy Boucher said. "It's a new team basically with so many new faces that weren't here before, and the guys that were here wanted to really do well. You could see before the game some long breathing and before long the guys froze out there."
Mike Santorelli had Florida's lone goal in the first period.
Kings 3, Avalanche 2
Ryan Smyth scored with 1:34 left in the third period to give Los Angeles Kings a victory over Colorado Avalanche in the 13th annual "Frozen Fury" at the MGM Grand Arena in Las Vegas.
Smyth tried to throw the puck in front to teammate Anze Kopitar, but the pass tipped off the stick of a Colorado defender and popped over the shoulder of goaltender Craig Anderson to break a 2-2 tie.
Kopitar and Drew Doughty also scored for the Kings, who are 3-1-1 going into their exhibition finale at Anaheim on Sunday. The Kings open at home against Vancouver next Saturday.
David Jones tallied both goals for the Avalanche (2-5-0), who host Chicago in their season opener on Thursday.
Blues 4, Stars 3 (OT)
B.J. Crombeen scored with 2:40 remaining in overtime to give the Blues a come-from behind victory.
Crombeen's wrister from the high slot went over the glove hand of backup Andrew Raycroft, who replaced starter Kari Lehtonen at the start of the third period. David Perron, Brad Boyes and T.J. Oshie also scored for St. Louis, which trailed 2-0 in the third period. Oshie tied it at 3-3 with 6:18 left in regulation.
"We liked that part," Blues coach Davis Payne said of his team's comeback. "We had a decent start, but we got ourselves in penalty trouble. There were a lot of areas we can clean up."
The Blues outshot Dallas 31-22 and will play their final preseason game Sunday in Chicago.
Dallas scored three power-play goals, with Matt Niskanen involved in all three. He assisted on first-period goals by Severin Blindenbacher and Jamie Benn, then scored to put Dallas ahead 3-2 at 9:06 of the third.
Material from wire services and team media was used in this report.