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Da Costa tricks Hawks with three-goal outburst

by Rob Brodie / Ottawa Senators
Stephane Da Costa's offensive skills were on full dislay Sunday at the General Motors Centre in Oshawa, Ont., as his three-goal spree in the second period helped the Senators edged the Chicago Blackhawks 6-5 at the NHL rookie tournament (Photo by Andre Ringuette/NHLI via Getty Images).

OSHAWA, Ont. — Stephane Da Costa has a definite nose for the net.

The Merrimack College Warriors knew it almost immediately, especially when the native of Paris exploded for a five-goal game in the second game of his freshman season. It's why Da Costa was coveted by so many National Hockey League teams as a college free agent last spring — and why the Ottawa Senators considered him such a prize when they won the battle for his services.

That ability was front and centre Sunday afternoon at the General Motors Centre, as Da Costa erupted for a natural hat trick in the second period, rallying the Senators past the Chicago Blackhawks 6-5 in their second outing of the NHL rookie tournament here.

Mika Zibanejad, the Senators' top pick in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, flashed his many skills as well, collecting a goal and two assists. Corey Cowick, with his third goal in two games, and Andre Petersson, with his second of the tournament, rounded out the Ottawa scoring.

Jimmy Hayes and Brandon Saad, each with two, and Pierre LeBlanc scored for the Hawks.

Da Costa, who figures to be in the mix to land a roster spot when Senators main training camp opens on Friday, helped his case with Sunday's effort. Not that anyone in Ottawa's hockey management was surprised to see that kind of offensive display.

"He’s someone that has a good shot, but knows where to put it on net," said Pierre Dorion, the Senators' director of player personnel. "He’s someone with a lot of hockey sense, a lot of skill and a lot of puck poise. He showed a lot of good things today. (Da Costa) still has to get stronger and he still has to get quicker, but with his hockey sense, skill level, playmaking ability and shot, I think we’re going to see some good things out of him."

For his part, Da Costa agreed it was the kind of performance he needs to show to stay in Ottawa to start the season — even if it took him a while to get going.

"Everything went in, which was good," he said after the game. "It gave me confidence for the third period. The first period, I wasn't really happy with myself. I had a pretty bad period.

"I’m just here to play and try my hardest to make the team. If I make it, good, if I don’t, I’m going to keep trying and just do my best."

Count Binghamton Senators head coach Kurt Kleinendorst, who's guiding the Sens rookies in this tournament, among those impressed by Da Costa's effort.

"He's very intelligent, very skilled, an honest player," said Kleinendorst, who used Da Costa on the point on the power play and was rewarded with a goal for it. "We knew that he played the point on the power play in college. He’s very comfortable out there."

The Senators rookies have Monday off and will practise at the General Motors Centre, then will close out the tournament on Tuesday against the host Toronto Maple Leafs (7 p.m., Rogers 22, Team 1200). Both Ontario rivals enter the game with unbeaten records after the Leafs whipped the Pittsburgh Penguins 5-1 on Sunday night.

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