What could be better for a Flyers fan than a hat trick? How about two — and against their in-state rivals, to boot.
The Wachovia Center ice was littered with hats not once, but twice, as Joffrey Lupul
and R.J. Umberger
each had three goals in Philadelphia’s 8-2 rout of the Pittsburgh Penguins
on Tuesday night.
It was the first time two Flyers scored three goals in the same game since Tim Kerr
and Dave Poulin each had three against the New York Islanders
on Dec. 18, 1986. Lupul added three assists for the first six-point night by a Flyer since Eric Lindros
did it in a 6-3 victory over Toronto on March 19, 1997.
Not bad for a player who hadn’t had a goal in 11 games or a point in his last four.
"He will admit that he has gotten away a little bit from doing the little things well that make him a good player, but he’s a big guy that skates well and is a scoring player," Flyers coach John Stevens
said of Lupul. "He and [Mike Richards
] seem to have chemistry together. That line was terrific tonight.
Richards had three assists and Umberger had two, giving the line 14 points. About the only thing that slowed the trio down was the delays caused when rink attendants had to come onto the ice to clean up the hats.
"Our whole line has been playing well,” said Umberger, who, like his linemates, was plus-4 for the night. “We have the attitude to play defense first and to shut down (Sidney) Crosby and it's been generating scoring chances our way.”
The victory ended Pittsburgh’s four-game winning streak. It was the Flyers’ third in as many meetings with the Penguins this season, after Pittsburgh won all eight games between the two teams last season.
“Pittsburgh got the best of us last season,” said Lupul, who came from Edmonton this past summer. “We’ve been taking it to them this season.”
Lupul scored the first two goals, added one in the third and assisted on all three of Philadelphia's goals in the second period. Lupul, who started the game with six goals and 17 points, had his best game as a Flyer and arguably his finest since he scored four goals for Anaheim in Game 3 of the Western Conference semifinals against Colorado in 2006.
Lupul started the scoring 1:11 into the game ( 700K
), one-timing Umberger’s perfect pass behind Dany Sabourin
. He made it 2-0 at 3:44, beating Sabourin with a slap shot from the slot and sending the crowd into a frenzy ( 700K
“Things went well for us right from the first shift of the game,” Lupul said.
But the Penguins quieted things by scoring a pair of power-play goals, both set up by Crosby. Ryan Whitney
beat Martin Biron
with a snap shot at 12:39 ( 700K
and Petr Sykora
tied it at 14:28 ( 700K
Crosby, who was greeted like a conquering hero during the Penguins’ visit to Western Canada last week, was razzed all night by the Philadelphia fans.
"I think we had to stick up for each other at one point," Crosby said. "They have a lot of guys who play physical and probably take it beyond physical sometimes, but beyond that I think it's just sticking up for one another."
Umberger put the Flyers ahead by beating Sabourin with a wrist shot at 8:10 of the second period ( 700K
), then scored two minutes later to make it 4-2 ( 700K
). Mike Knuble
’s power-plat goal with 10 seconds left increased the margin to three goals ( 700K
“I got a loose puck there on the first goal and fired it to the net high and it found its way in,” Umberger said. “The second goal, [Lupul] got poke-checked and the puck came to me. I made a little bit of a toe-drag around the guy and went short side."
Lupul capped the Flyers’ second hat trick of the season — and the first at home in two years — when he knocked in a rebound in front of the crease at 4:07 of the third period for a power-play goal that made it 6-2 ( 700K
), triggering the first cascade of hats.
"It's special, but when it's 6-2, they don't mean a lot," Lupul said. "The two in the first period felt better than the one in the third period."
Defenseman Braydon Coburn
scored on the power play at 6:09 ( 700K
before Umberger completed his hat trick at 17:48.
"The puck just bounced our way and we were there to finish," Umberger said. “You don’t have many nights like this.”
Material from wire services and team media were used in this report.