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The trifecta

by Derek Jory / Vancouver Canucks
Tony Tanti and Markus Naslund made it look easy.

During their years spent in Vancouver, Tanti and Naslund each recorded 10 hat tricks; both had the ability to cap off a two-goal performance by scoring the clutch third goal, the one that triggers a heavy downpour of hats.

That third goal has been elusive at best for the Canucks this season as through 65 games, 11 players have had at least one multi-goal game, yet none have completed the trifecta.

Throughout franchise history players have hit the three-goal mark in a game 113 times, with Vancouver’s single season record sitting at eight from the 1986-87 campaign.

Similar to a grand slam in baseball or a triple-double in basketball, a hat trick is typically a rare feat in hockey and this season there’s been a better chance of spotting the Ogopogo, Loch Ness Monster, a sasquatch and an alien out for a spot of tea than a three-goal outing by a Canuck.

Overall Vancouver players have produced 20 two-goal efforts this year, led by Daniel Sedin, Alex Burrows and Steve Bernier, who each have three.

“I don’t have any hat tricks in my career yet so I’d like to get one someday, but as long as the team wins it doesn’t really matter,” said Bernier, who has seven career two-goal games under his belt.

A win trumps all else, but a sensational hat trick performance en route to victory wouldn’t hurt anyone, especially if it went down at GM Place where fans are starving for a three-goal game.

Naslund was the last Canuck to record a hat trick and it played out in Minnesota on Nov. 21, 2007 when he beat netminder Josh Harding three times in a 4-2 win. That was 126 games ago.

The home hat trick drought is nearly as long with 121 games at The Garage having been played since Alex Burrows lit up Mathieu Garon and the Los Angeles Kings for three goals in a 7-4 win on March 27, 2006.

Having hats rain down was a special feeling for Burrows and he’d love to experience it again, mainly because his first career triple may have been a sham.

“I scored two goals in the second period and in the third Kesler shot it and it kind of went off the d-man and in and they credited me with the goal, so it’s kind of a fake-trick we like to call it,” laughed Burrows.

“Upstairs they thought it went off me and I’m still not sure to this day if it did or not, but it doesn’t matter, we just call it a fake-trick and Kes still likes to give it to me about it.”

This season there have been 58 hat tricks in the NHL, both Alexander Ovechkin and Eric Staal have three apiece, with the combined record of teams producing a hat trick scorer sitting at 54-3-1 through March 9.

The Canucks sport a similarly impressive 16-1-3 record in two-goal performances which says something about the impact a great individual outing has on a game, but this still leaves those hungry to chuck their lids in agony.

Of Vancouver’s 11 player with at least one multi-goal game, only Burrows and Bernier have been close to sealing the deal.

Last Tuesday in a 4-2 win over the Minnesota Wild, Burrows barely had the pen he used to sign a contract extension down before scoring twice, opening the door for a hat trick.

With Niklas Backstrom on the bench late in the game the puck was fed to Burrows near centre ice, but time expired before he could golf it into the empty net – assuming he would have.

No one wants to relive what Dallas' Patrik Stefan went through last season when he missed an empty cage late in the third period before Edmonton countered with a last second goal to tie the game up at 5-5.

Recalling this, Burrows passed up a chance to record a hat trick earlier this season against the New York Rangers.

“I was out there the last minute and I was thinking about it,” said Burrows, “but within the last minute you’ve got to make sure you gain the redline before shooting it otherwise you miss the net and there could be an icing and then they score.

“A hat trick isn't really a big deal to me, if it happens, it happens.”

Bernier has yet to be granted the free pass of an empty net to complete a triad, he’s been going at it the old fashioned way in trying to embarrass the opposing goalie with one more shot.

Both Jonas Hiller and Dwayne Roloson have the iron to thank for keeping Bernier off the goal scorers list three times in a game this year.

“I’ve hit the post twice,” smirked Bernier. “In Anaheim I hit the post and in Edmonton I hit the post, the puck can either go one way or the other and it’s too bad neither one went in.”

If the Canucks can’t produce a hat trick scorer this year, it would be just the second time in franchise history no one manages to pull the trick.

During the 1999-2000 season, despite boasting the likes of Naslund, Mark Messier, Todd Bertuzzi and Brendan Morrison, no Vancouver players lit the lamp three times in a game.

With 16 regular season games remaining before the playoffs, the Canucks have ample time to ensure someone collects a trio of goals; both Burrows and Bernier have struck out in their previous two attempts, but who knows, maybe the third time’s a charm.

  2008-09 hat trick stats
All-time hat trick leaders

  11 - Different Canucks with at least one multi-goal game this season

16-1-3 - Vancouver's record this year when boasting a multi-goal scorer

- Games since Vancouver's last hat trick

121 - Home games since the last hat trick at GM Place

113 - Hat tricks in Canucks franchise history

19 - Vancouver hat tricks 2000-present

58 - Hat tricks throughout the NHL this season

54-3-1 - Record of NHL teams with a hat trick scorer this year

Burrows hat trick
It's a hatty for Naslund
Hat trick podcast
Linden's first trick

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