Petr Sykora had a lingering distinction that hung over him like a black cloud. You see, in 870 career games, Sykora never scored a hat trick. He did record 38 two-goal games in his career, the most ever in the NHL by a player that never scored three in a game.
But that streak would not reach game No. 871. The cloud was lifted when Sykora finally saw the light after he netted three goals in Pittsburgh’s 9-2 rout of the New York Islanders at Mellon Arena on Thursday night.
“It is a relief,” Sykora said. “As much as I was talking about it not bothering me, it did bother me. It feels pretty good. This game is pretty special. I know my dad is watching in Czech (Republic) and he’s probably happy and proud.”
Sykora pointed out another positive outcome of registering the hat trick.
“I don’t have to talk to (the media) all the time after scoring two goals,” Sykora said with a grin.
Sykora finally nailed that third goal late in the second period with the Penguins on a power play. Sykora positioned himself in the high slot between the circles. Sidney Crosby
had the puck on the right side. After skating around, Crosby sent a hard centering pass to Sykora. The Czech native slapped the puck into the net and all was right in the world.
“That last goal, I can’t say enough about Sid,” Sykora said. “He came to me and told me before the play that he was going to walk down the right side and he said just to get open - that he was going to get it to me. He made a perfect pass.”
Immediately after scoring the goal, Sykora screamed and raced over to Crosby. Sykora leaped into Crosby’s arms and the rest of the team swarmed to congratulate Sykora on his accomplishment.
“You want to look for a guy that has two goals, especially with the (lopsided) score you may force it a little more than normally,” Crosby said. “He knows where to go so I just put it on his stick.”
The Mellon Arena staff collected the hats thrown on the ice by the fans and dumped the whole lot onto Sykora’s locker stall. He didn’t seem to mind.
“I haven’t even gone through them,” he said. “I’m going to give them away to some kids.”
Sykora scored his first goal on a one-timer from Malkin in the first period. He notched his second at 7:53 of the second period after defenseman Alex Goligoski set him up for another one-timer.
Sykora added an assist to tie a career high with four points in the game. Not to mention, tallying his eighth, ninth and 10th goals of the year, as well as his seventh and eighth power-play goals of the season.
When you score that first goal early in the game you start feeling good about yourself, the puck starts coming to you. The puck was coming to me. - Petr Sykora
“When you score that first goal early in the game you start feeling good about yourself, the puck starts coming to you,” Sykora said. “The puck was coming to me.”
The puck was also coming to Pascal Dupuis
. Not be outdone by Sykora, Dupuis also netted his first career hat trick in the game.
“Sykkie waited a little longer than me,” Dupuis said.
“It’s nice to see two guys get their first hat trick in the NHL in Petr Sykora and Pascal Dupuis
, but it was a total team effort,” head coach Michel Therrien said.
The Penguins have had five players notch hat tricks this season (Evgeni Malkin
, Crosby, Jordan Staal
, Sykora, Dupuis). It was the seventh time in Penguins' history that two players had a hat trick in the same game. That last time was April 9, 1993, against the New York Rangers in Madison Square Garden when Mario Lemieux and Joe Mullen reached the mark.
Dupuis netted the game’s first goal when he unleashed a slap shot from the left circle. Islanders goaltender Joey MacDonald got a glove on the puck but it trickled over the goal line.
“We ended up getting the first goal and started rolling from there,” Dupuis said.
“Both (Sykora) and (Dupuis) had the hot hand tonight,” Crosby said. “When guys are playing like that you want to get the puck to them.”
Dupuis was doing everything he could to get the hat trick. He took three shots in the third period and even saw some time on the power play. He had two great opportunities on the man-advantage but couldn't light the lamp.
“We tried everything that we could to put him out there in a position to score that third goal,” Therrien said. “It was good for his confidence because he’s been struggling a little bit offensively since the beginning of the year. I think confidence-wise it’s going to be good.”
We’ll both remember that game that we both scored our first hat trick. - Pascal Dupuis
Dupuis scored his third goal on a great breakaway move. He and Matt Cooke
entered the New York zone on a two-on-one. Cooke flipped a backhand pass to put Dupuis one-on-one with goalie Yann Danis, who replaced MacDonald at the start of the second period. Dupuis faked a shot and then roofed a backhander into the net.
“He had a pretty good hockey game tonight,” Sykora said. “I’m pretty happy for him. I can relate to the feeling of the first hat trick.”
“We’ll both remember that game that we both scored our first hat trick."