Hat's off to Bochenski

CHRIS STEVENSON -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 7:42 AM ET

SUNRISE, FLA. -- Olli Jokinen likes watching the Senators on television.

Last night, the Florida Panthers captain got to see them live and up close. Better to be in the La-Z-Boy.

Last night's episode featured a new star as rookie Brandon Bochenski had his first NHL hat trick and added an assist, helping the Senators overcome a slow start for a 6-3 win at the BankAmerica Center before an announced crowd of 10,883 (but looked half that).

"I'll be flipping around, looking for a game and if (the Senators) are on, my remote stops right there," said Jokinen. "Obviously, my wife isn't too happy with it, but that's why we have a lot of televisions in the house."

The Senators, now 21-4, served up another example of high definition offence last night when they needed it. Missing top defencemen Wade Redden and Zdeno Chara, they fell behind 1-0 and 2-1, but then scored five straight to take control of the game, outshooting the Panthers 15-1 at one point in the second period.

Leading the way was Bochenski, who now has four goals in three games since being recalled from Binghamton last week.

'IT FEELS GOOD'

"It feels good. The first goal was a good one and the other two just kind of snuck in there, but I'll take those," said Bochenski. "Considering I didn't have three goals (in my career), it's pretty exciting having three in this game."

The 23-year-old looks a lot more comfortable during this callup than he did in the first 10 games of the season.

Bochenski struggled then while trying to find his way with Jason Spezza and Dany Heatley and was sent to the minors. But he has looked like a new man, a kid who has rediscovered his confidence, since getting the callup when Martin Havlat went down with a shoulder injury.

"I got a chance to loosen up," said Bochenski. "I"m not worried about losing my spot on the first line now. I'm not playing against the other team's top defencemen and top line. I'm in my spot and there's no pressure right now."

On his first goal, Bochenski blocked a shot by Florida defenceman Eric Cairns and broke away. He did a great job of protecting the puck from Alexei Semenov and then rifled a riser over the glove of Florida goaltender Roberto Luongo to give the Senators the lead for the first time on the night.

After Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson made it 4-2 with his 21st of the season on the power play, Bochenski stuffed a puck under Luongo on the power play two minutes into the third to make it 5-2 and capitalized on a turnover to get his third at 5:44.

That goal chased Luongo from the Florida net.

Senators coach Bryan Murray was in a joking mood after the game. When asked about Bochenski's turnaround, he deadpanned: "Well he's finally getting a chance to play with some good players. "We knew he could score goals, it was a matter if he could do it at this level and the speed of this game. It appears after his first goal, he can do that. He looked like a player tonight."

The Senators also got goals from Chris Neil and Vaclav Varada. Niklas Hagman, Mike Van Ryn and Joe Nieuwendyk scored for Florida.

chris.stevenson@ott.sunpub.com

Senators 6

Panthers 3


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