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Senators 6, Panthers 3 @NHLdotcom

SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) - Ottawa's Brandon Bochenski counted himself among the people surprised at his first career hat trick.

The former North Dakota star had his first three-goal game and the NHL-leading Senators won for the eighth time in nine games, beating the Florida Panthers 6-3 on Monday night.

``Considering I didn't have three goals prior to this game, it was definitely exciting to have three in one game,'' Bochenski said. ``I don't know what else to say.''

Dominik Hasek made 26 saves to help the Senators improve to 21-4 overall and 17-0 when leading after two periods. Ottawa leads the NHL in both goals and fewest goals allowed, scoring 115 and allowing only 52.

Bochenski's three goals gave the rookie five overall in 13 games. It was his third game since being recalled Nov. 30 from Binghamton of the AHL.

``I don't think it really changes anything,'' Bochenski said. ``I'm here to fill in for (injured) Martin Havlat. If they keep me for the entire time he's gone, I'll be happy. I just want to play solid while I'm up here.''

Florida's Roberto Luongo stopped 27 of 33 shots before being replaced by Jamie McLennan following Bochenski's third goal at 5:44 of the third.

``I never heard of this guy (Bochenski) before, but obviously I'll know who he is from now on,'' Luongo said.

Chris Neil, Vaclav Varada and Daniel Alfredsson also scored for Ottawa, which scored five straight goals after falling behind 2-1 in the first period.

Niklas Hagman, Mike Van Ryn and Joe Nieuwendyk scored for the Panthers, who were trying to win three straight games for the first time this season.

``I'm disappointed, but you have to keep in mind they're the best team in the league,'' said Panthers coach Jacques Martin, who coached Ottawa to eight consecutive postseason appearances through 2004.

``A top team like that doesn't give us many turnovers.''

Bochenski scored his first goal of the game on a breakaway at 7:51 of the second to give Ottawa a 3-2 lead.

After intercepting Eric Cairns' pass in the Ottawa zone, Bochenski skated in on Luongo before sending a wrist shot to the goalie's high glove side just as Florida's Alexei Semenov caught up to him.

``I kind of knew there was a guy coming, so I had to shoot kind of quickly,'' Bochenski said. ``A quick snap, a high shot, and I got it past him.''

The Senators made it 4-2 when Alfredsson scored his 21st goal at 10:49 of the second. His shot from just inside the blue line got past Luongo, who was screened.

Bochenski scored a power-play goal at 1:59 of the third. Ottawa was 2-for-5 on the power play.

Ottawa played without its two best defensemen - Zdeno Chara (one-game suspension) and Wade Redden (sprained knee). Both were expected to return for Friday night's game in Vancouver.

``We shouldn't give up two goals in a period the way we've been playing lately defensively,'' coach Bryan Murray said. ``We got it shut down in the second period.''

Notes: Chara was suspended for instigating during Friday night's 5-1 win over Los Angeles. ... Murray (63), Hagman (26) and Florida's Olli Jokinen (27) celebrated birthdays. ... The game was rescheduled from Oct. 22 due to the aftermath of Hurricane Wilma. ... Havlat is sidelined by a dislocated right shoulder.

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