Tim Stutzle scored his first career NHL hat trick to carry the Ottawa Senators to a 4-2 win over the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday night.
By Chris Faria
Connor Brown got the icebreaker for the Sens halfway through the first period after he deflected Victor Mete’s point shot past Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck. The goal gave Brown his 20th tally of the season – the second time he’s reached that plateau in his career.
It was déjà vu just 76 seconds later as Stutzle tipped in his 10th of the season off an Artem Zub wrister, giving the Senators a 2-0 lead on just three shots.
Despite being outshot 10-5 through 20 minutes, Ottawa was able to capitalize on their chances and take a two-goal lead into the intermission.
Winnipeg fought back early in the second, though, as their offensive pressure was finally rewarded less than a minute into the frame. Mark Scheifele picked the puck up behind the Ottawa net and fed a pass to Mason Appleton in the slot, who rifled it home for his first goal in 19 games, cutting the Senators’ lead in half.
Sens goaltender Filip Gustavsson came up big with a point-blank stop on Jets sniper Kyle Connor in the final minute of the period to preserve Ottawa’s lead through 40.
Stutzle doubled down 5:11 into the third period as Brown fed a cross-seam pass to the German, who quickly collected the puck and wristed it off the crossbar and in to make it 3-1.
The Sens went to the power play with just 2:54 to play and it looked like they would be able to coast to an easy two points, but the Jets had other plans. With a couple of seconds remaining on the penalty, Winnipeg captain Blake Wheeler sent a lofted cross-ice pass to Scheifele, who picked it up at the Senators’ blue line before snapping it by Gustavsson for the 200th goal of his career – and a nail-biting 53 seconds for the Sens.
Ottawa’s worries were quickly erased, though, as Paul Stastny took an interference penalty on Stutzle to stop him from a chance at the empty net. However, the Jets could not keep the rookie away from the empty net for long as Brown picked off a pass in the neutral zone and fed it to Stutzle to complete his hat trick.
While Stutzle was the star of the show with three goals, Brown also came up big with a goal and two assists while 20-year-old Shane Pinto added two helpers of his own, bumping his point total up to six through his first 10 NHL games.
With the victory Ottawa improves their win streak to three while collecting points in six straight (5-0-1).
The Sens will be back in action on Sunday in their second last game of the season as they take on the Calgary Flames at 8:00 EST.