Nieuwendyk Nets a Hat Trick
Joe Nieuwendyk was all over the ice at the Air Canada Centre and showcased the skills that have made him a scoring threat throughout his 22 years of playing in the NHL. He showed the Toronto Maple Leafs what they were missing out on when they neglected to re-sign him as he recorded the 14th hat trick of his career.
Nieuwendyk and the Panthers fought hard, but fell in overtime to the Leafs 6-5.
With his 23rd and 24th goals of the season Nieuwendyk tied, and then passed Johnny Bucyk for sole possession of 20th all-time in goals scored. He now sits two goals away from Guy Lafleur with 558.
Nieuwendyk's amazing night started at 8:03 of the first period as he and Nathan Horton darted down the ice on another two-on-one. Horton deked the defender and dished the puck over to Nieuwendyk for the one-timer that was launched through the five-hole of Aubin. Martin Gelinas set up the play dishing to a streaking Horton.
He was most impressive though at crunch time with the team down 5-4, Nieuwendyk was fighting for the puck behind the net and finally gained control. He shot the puck against the net and it trickled over the top landing on the outer right edge of the goal crease. Jay Bouwmeester quickly slapped at the puck knocking it over the outstretched pad of Jean-Sebastien Aubin and into the net to tie the game with 2:23 remaining in regulation. Nathan Horton set up the initial play for his 19th assist of the season.
Nieuwendyk continued his impressive play at 4:00 of the second period as he and Gary Roberts played like a pair of youth hockey players. They exchanged passes back and forth until they reached the goal crease where Nieuwendyk fired a shot through the five-hole on the power-play.
Nieuwendyk completed his hat trick after Sean Hill dished a pass as he came streaking towards the crease alone and faked out Aubin, scoring top-shelf at 1:07 of the third period.
Olli Jokinen put the Panthers on the scoreboard first on a two-on-one dash down the ice that led to a rocket of a shot that came at 7:29 of the first period. The goal was his 37th of the season that set a career season high.
The Cats continue their road trip in Ottawa on Thursday night as they take on the Senators.