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Chris Kelly’s Hat Trick Buries Sluggish Rangers

For as flat as the Rangers played last night — particularly in a first period in which John Tortorella was forced to use his time out just four minutes into the game — they came within 2:44 of at least earning a point. But after Chris Kelly and Brandon Prust traded short-handed goals in the second, Kelly scored his second of the game off a feed from Jarkko Ruutu to give the Senators a late 2–1 lead — one they'd hang on to in the game's final minutes. Kelly would then complete his first career hat trick with a hard-fought empty netter as the clock wound down. (Luckily, this kind of effort against an inferior opponent — Ottawa hadn't scored in more than 200 minutes before Kelly opened the scoring — has been the exception this year: The Times points out that going into last night's game, the Rangers had been 12-2-1 against teams below them in the standings.) And after clicking last Thursday during the first of back-to-back wins over the dreadful Islanders, the line Marian Gaborik, Sean Avery, and Erik Christensen — the line on the ice for the decisive Ottawa goal — has yet to produce a tally of its own. (Gaborik, by the way, also made a bad pass to Derek Stepan on the power play that led to Kelly's first goal.) Oh, well: That effective top line was fun while it lasted.

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Photo: Christopher Pasatieri/Getty Images