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Vermette completes hat trick with OT goal for Coyotes

by Sean Farrell

OTTAWA -- What Antoine Vermette enjoyed most about scoring a hat trick against the Ottawa Senators was that each of his three goals against his former team made a crucial contribution to a come-from-behind victory.

Vermette scored the tying goal with 2:13 remaining in regulation and completed his hat trick at 2:23 of overtime to lift the Phoenix Coyotes to a 4-3 win against Ottawa on Saturday.

Vermette, who began his career with the Senators and played for Ottawa from 2003-09, beat Craig Anderson for the winner after drawing Phoenix even at 3-3 with a power-play goal after Coyotes defenseman Keith Yandle stopped Senators captain Jason Spezza's clearing attempt at the blue line. Ottawa's Erik Condra was in the penalty box after being called for high sticking Rostislav Klesla at 16:35.

"At the end of the day, you want to win, and that's what makes it special," said Vermette, who scored his first of the game at 5:58 of the second period to draw Phoenix within 2-1.

Phoenix goalie Mike Smith stopped 37 shots, including a sensational right toe save on Clarke MacArthur's shot off a rebound of Kyle Turris' shot in overtime.

"It came off the pad so quick that it kind of caught me off guard, too, and I just tried to shoot it as quick as I could," MacArthur said. "You have to give him credit. He made a couple of big ones to get them that win."

Radim Vrbata scored in the second period for the Coyotes, who erased a 2-0 deficit on their way to ending a three-game skid (0-2-1).

"I thought we got better as the game went on," Smith said. "The boys bailed me out a little bit there. I had a couple of soft ones and we were able to respond and get a huge win for our team here."

Senators defenseman Marc Methot had a goal and an assist.

Turris put the Senators up 1-0 with a power-play goal at 6:14 of the first period on an assist from Methot, who gave the team its second lead at 3-2 with a 4-on-4 goal at 14:51 of the second. It was Methot's first multipoint game of the season.

Anderson made 33 saves and Zack Smith scored for Ottawa, which has lost three in a row.

The Senators fell to 14-17-7, including 2-9-3 against Western Conference opponents.

"I'm sick of standing here and always saying the same things," Methot said. "You could just repeat everything I say after a loss and it's going to be the same difference. We're all frustrated. I'm frustrated, I'm sure the fans are; it's almost like we found a way to lose the game tonight and it pains me to say that."

Zack Smith took a long pass from Eric Gryba and drove in from the blue line to score his sixth goal at 3:10 of the middle period to give the Senators 2-0 lead, their first since Nov. 9, a span of 21 games.

Vermette drew Phoenix within 2-1 with his 10th goal at 5:28, his first against his former team. Vrbata scored his 10th goal on a power play at 8:47 to tie it at 2-2.

Mike Smith got tangled up with Ottawa's Chris Neil in a goalmouth scrum midway through the second. Both were assessed roughing minors at 10:41 along with Senators forward Colin Greening and Phoenix defenseman Mike Stone, and Neil also drew a slashing penalty on the play.

"I had to mix stuff up a little bit and change it up, so this is what happens," Mike Smith said. "This is what happens. Emotions are running high and everyone's trying to win. He's a gritty player, a good player and he goes to the front of the net, so sometimes it happens."

Two more sets of coincidental minors followed. Coyotes defenseman Connor Murphy was sent off at 13:32 for interfering with MacArthur, who was called for boarding. Greening and Phoenix's Derek Morris were given roughing penalties at 13:46.

Methot came out from behind the Coyotes' net on the ensuing 4-on-4 and snapped a shot past Mike Smith to restore Ottawa's one-goal lead at 3-2.

"We came out good and in the second period we kind of had a lapse again where they got a couple of breaks and they scored on both of them," MacArthur said. "We've got to do a better job in that area, and in overtime, I have a chance to finish it there and just trying to get a quick shot off and he makes a huge save. And that's normally what happens; it goes back the other way and they get one. I'd love to have that shot back, obviously, and it's disappointing. We should have had two [points] tonight."

Phoenix captain Shane Doan missed his seventh straight game because of a previously undisclosed illness. Coyotes general manager Don Maloney said Friday that Doan was being treated for symptoms of Rocky Mountain spotted fever which, according to the Mayo Clinic's website is "a tick-borne bacterial disease that affects the cells in the lining of your blood vessels, making the vessels leak."

Doan, who skated at Arena on Friday, is taking medication and is considered week-to-week. It's not expected that he'll return before the turn of the calendar year.

Senators rookie defenseman Cody Ceci celebrated his 20th birthday. Ceci, who scored his first NHL goal in overtime Monday against the St. Louis Blues, played his sixth straight game since he was called up from Binghamton of the American Hockey League on Dec. 12.

Ottawa closes out a three-game homestand Monday against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Phoenix completes its four-game road trip against the Buffalo Sabres, also on Monday.

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