The Predators have seen two of their 21 all-time hat tricks occur on Nov. 10 – the first, which occurred during the franchise’s second season by one of the most unlikely candidates – and the eighth, which came from one of the franchise’s top offensive producers.
In a routine early-season division game at the United Center in Chicago, in a span of just 11:12 in the opening period, Rob Valicevic turned the trick by beating Blackhawk starter Jocelyn Thibault first, then his backup Steve Passmore two more times.
“To this day it is still surreal,” Valicevic said when reflecting on the game. “It happened so fast, that oddly enough, it still hasn’t sunk in. In a matter of three shifts there were three goals. I was playing with Greg Johnson and Ville Peltonen at the time, and I can still see that third goal going in. It was quite an honor to be a part of the whole history-making process.”
The trio of goals in just more than 11 minutes still stands as the second-fastest three goals by an individual in club history.
“I guess the highlight of my career there was the hat trick in Chicago,” Valicevic said. “To this day I still can’t believe it happened.”
Steve Sullivan is the only Predator to notch more than two three-goal games for the club, with the second of four coming powering the Preds’ 5-3, third-period comeback win over the Dallas Stars on Nov. 10, 2005. Trailing 3-2, Nashville stormed back with three third-period strikes, including two goals in the final 10 minutes off the stick of the Timmins, Ont., native.
Sully’s final goal was one for the highlight reels, as he took an outlet pass on his side of the red line and stickhandled his way through Stars defenseman Sergei Zubov with three moves before getting around him to the right and firing a low shot past goalie Marty Turco.
"When I got the puck, they had a couple of Dallas guys backchecking," Sullivan said, describing his final tally. "There was only Zubov in front of me so I figured I might as well just try to play him one-on-one since I wasn't going to be able to wait for anyone else to catch up to me. So I made a couple of moves on him and I don't think Marty Turco thought I was going to be able to get the shot off. I think Zubov had me wrapped up pretty good so i don't think he was expecting the shot. I think I just beat him low, blocker side--just caught him off guard."
The game kept the wheels spinning on a four-game winning streak and span of 10 victories in 12 games for the 2005-06 Predators, who went on to set franchise records in wins and points to clinch their second playoff berth in franchise history.