Sykora, Dupuis power Penguins
It's definitely one of those nights when Petr Sykora nets a hat trick. Same goes for Penguins teammate Pascal Dupuis.
Actually, it had never been one of those nights ... until Thursday.
Sykora and Dupuis tallied their first NHL hat tricks in the Penguins' 9-2 victory over the New York Islanders at Mellon Arena.
"I'm so happy for him," Sykora said of Dupuis. "I can kind of relate to that feeling of the first hat trick."
Scoring three goals in a game had proven tricky for Sykora. A sharp-shooting right wing now with 285 goals to his credit, he had amassed a record 38 two-goal games without recording a hat trick.
He dodged a disappointing No. 39 at 15:42 of the second period last night. Unguarded in the slot, Sykora one-touched a pass from center Sidney Crosby past backup New York goalie Yann Danis for his 10th goal of the season.
"As much as I didn't want to (say), it did bother me," said Sykora of his hat trick woes.
The Penguins (16-9-4, 36 points) were hardly bothered by the Islanders, as was evident by a season-best goal output.
Nice way to snap a three-game losing skid, especially with an Atlantic Division showdown at Philadelphia on Saturday looming.
Two players scoring hat tricks should settle any doubt that may have crept into an injury-plagued dressing room.
The last Penguins' teammates to tally hat tricks in the same game were Mario Lemieux and Joe Mullen, who pulled it off against New York Rangers on April 9, 1993.
No sooner had Sykora's hat-trick deflection crossed the goal last night line than a 80th consecutive sellout crowd at Mellon Arena roared and began tossing hats and promotional giveaway bags unto the ice.
After scoring, Sykora jumped into the arms of Crosby, whom he credited with "calling the play."
"I just told him what I was going to do," said Crosby, who recorded three assists. "We all know the history of (Sykora) and how many games it had been."
That history was reason enough for Dupuis, who ate a post-game shaving-cream facewich from teammate Matt Cooke, to turn praise of his personal-best performance toward Sykora.
However, coach Michel Therrien would have none of it.
"His first goal was a great shot," Therrien said of Dupuis, who opened the scoring with a slap shot blast past New York starting goalie Joey MacDonald at 6:25 of the first period.
Dupuis scored his final two goals, Nos. 5 and 6 of the season, against Dannis, who replaced MacDonald after the first period, which the Penguins ended ahead, 4-1.
"It's got to be good for his confidence," Therrien said of Dupuis' hat trick.
"It's one of those things," Dupuis said. "I felt good shooting, and guys were giving me the puck and finding me.
"But the focus should be on (Syokora)."
It was after a game center Evgeni Malkin said was the "most fun (he's) had in a long time."
Speaking of Malkin, the league's point leader, he was one of several Penguins to pad stats last night.
Malkin scored his 12th goal and added an assist. He has 48 points through 29 games - 14 better than his total through as many games last season, when he finished second overall with 106 points.
Fellow "Mega Powers" center Crosby upped his second-best point total to 44. His only better start through 29 games was 52 points in 2006-07, when he won the scoring title and MVP with a 120-point campaign.
Nine Penguins registered multiple points - including two-point efforts from Cooke, center Jordan Staal, and defensemen Rob Scuderi and Alex Goligoski.
Defenseman Philippe Boucher tallied his first goal as a Penguin after returning from a six-game injury-related absence.
Oh, and right wing Miroslav Satan scored his 11th goal and added two assists last night - matching in the first period his top performance all season.
Back to Sykora, who bested MacDonald at 17:40 of the first period. He nailed Danis for the first time at 7:53 of the second.
"When you score that first goal, you start feeling good about yourself - especially when the puck is coming to you," said Sykora, who also added an assist. "And the puck was coming to me."