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Alex Kovalev broke out with a hat trick as the host Ottawa Senators claimed a 4-2 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday night.

Kovalev snagged the first goal of the night early in the first period. He pushed Ottawa (15-11-4) into the lead again to break a 2-2 tie in the third.

Kovalev snapped in a power-play goal on the play after his pass — which appeared to be heading for Nick Foligno — flicked off the skate of the Hurricanes' Jay Harrison.

With less than a minute to go in the game, Carolina (7-18-6) pulled goalie Manny Legace and Kovalev scored his third of the night.

The hat trick made Kovalev the 82nd player in NHL history to reach the 400-goal plateau.

"It's always great to pass that point," said Kovalev, who has 401 goals.

Jason Spezza also scored for the Senators, with Brian Elliott making 23 saves.

The first two periods started with early goals.

Carolina's Ray Whitney answered Kovalev's quick one with a power-play goal 21 seconds into the second. It was Whitney's ninth goal of the season.

Whitney took advantage of the power play while the Sens' centre Mike Fisher served a four-minute penalty for high-sticking Tom Kostopoulous.

Spezza snagged a power-play goal for Ottawa minutes later while Kostopoulos was in the penalty box for high-sticking Foligno.

Whitney scored another goal, tying the game 2-2, with just over than two minutes to go in the second period. He pounded one into the net with a clear shot as the puck bounced off goalie Elliott and right to his stick.

The Hurricanes' trip to Ottawa was the last stop for their four-game road trip.

"We need to win some games, so to be that close to it is frustrating," said Hurricanes coach Paul Maurice.

"We've been playing good for about three weeks to a month now and we've had a lot of these nights.

"A little under-staffed, a little under-manned and we're running some kids a little hard. They're playing, but you've got to get that puck across the line."

Legace finished with 35 saves. He was playing instead of Cam Ward, who made 36 saves in Friday's overtime loss to Washington on Friday.

It was the first of four matchups for the teams this season.

The Sens play six of their next 10 games at home. They visit Toronto on Monday and welcome Buffalo to home ice on Wednesday.