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Zajac’s hat trick powers Devils

Travis Zajac of the New Jersey Devils took a lot of grief considering he scored the first of his career-best three goals just 12 seconds into a crucial game against the Florida Panthers.

“He could have had a hat trick in the first 10 minutes, if he paid attention to the puck,” quipped linemate Jaromir Jagr, who added a goal and three assists in a wild 6-3 victory over the Panthers on Monday night. “He missed the net twice.

“He should not have had to wait until the third period. He could have celebrated after 10 minutes. He likes it the hard way, I guess.”

Veteran forward Dainius Zubrus yelled across the Devils locker room to Zajac that he probably should have had five goals. He then quickly pointed out that he once scored four in a game.

It was a rare fun night for the Devils, who are hoping a late-season rally can get them into the playoffs.

“All we care about is wins at this point,” said Zajac, who added an assist in matching his career high with four points. “The wingers were getting me the puck. I think I have more chances this game than I ever had.”

SENATORS 2, HURRICANES 1, SO: In Ottawa, Ontario, Ales Hemsky scored the only goal of the shootout to lead Ottawa.

Hemsky fired a shot off the post and into the net behind Cam Ward in the second round to give the Senators their third straight win and fourth in fifth games.

Craig Anderson stopped all three Carolina shooters to earn the victory.