Game was no choke!

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 10:01 AM ET

NEW YORK -- The Senators looked like they were on easy street last night, storming to a 5-0 lead early in the third period against the Rangers.

But a near-disastrous third period almost put an end to any post-game party celebrations.

Patrick Eaves had three points as the Senators clung to a 5-4 lead before Dany Heatley scored into an empty net so Senators fans could finally breathe easy with a 6-4 win.

Goals by Jason Ward, Petr Prucha, Marian Hossa and Blair Betts in a span of 7:10 gave the Rangers life in the third period.

"It got to 5-0 and we just stopped doing what we were capable of doing. I don't know why, but we just stopped and didn't keep going to the net," said Senators coach Bryan Murray. "Fortunately, when it got to 5-4 we shut it down and did a good job defensively. The good thing is after (today) nobody but you guys are going to remember this and we did get the two points."

Betts' tip, which found the twine with 9:21 remaining in the third, had Senators goalie Ray Emery shaking his head as Ottawa fell apart.

"They certainly made it interesting, but we got the win and that's important," said Emery.

"When they got it to 5-4, we weren't playing the way we were capable of playing and it's good that Emery was able to come up with some big saves," said Heatley

Make no mistake about it, the Senators were back on their heels and nearly blew this one. The Senators got off to a quick start and it wasn't all the fault of Rangers goalie Kevin Weekes, who gave up four goals on 27 shots. Rangers coach Tom Renney pulled Weekes and put in Henrik Lundqvist.

This came after Eaves made it 4-0 at 12:30 of the second with a nifty breakaway goal and Renney called a timeout to rip his team some more. The message must have gotten through.

After Daniel Alfredsson scored early in the third, Prucha, Ward and Hossa scored in a span of 2:41, followed by Betts' goal. The most dangerous New York player was Brendan Shanahan.

But he failed to get a shot off on a breakway at the buzzer in the first period and Emery was there to make a point-blank save from the slot midway through the second.

Making a return from a hip injury that kept him out five games, Antoine Vermette had a goal and an assist.

"I didn't worry when the puck wasn't going in for me," said Eaves, who scored twice. "I was getting chances and I knew that eventually it was going to start going in for me."

The Senators return to action tomorrow, facing the Habs at 2 p.m. at Scotiabank Place to kick off Hockey Day in Canada.


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