PITTSBURGH – Scoring three goals felt as good to Petr Sykora as he always believed it would. Not having to explain why he didn’t have a hat trick in his long career might feel even better.
Sykora scored the first hat trick in his 14-year NHL career and Pascal Dupuis also scored three times, leading the Pittsburgh Penguins’ 9-2 rout of the New York Islanders on Thursday night.
Evgeni Malkin had a goal and an assist, and Sidney Crosby set up three goals in Pittsburgh’s first nine-goal game since beating the Flyers 9-4 on Feb. 7, 2001. Pittsburgh had lost its previous three. The Islanders dropped their season-high fifth in a row and allowed nine goals for the first time since Dec. 19, 2005 against Toronto.
Sykora previously had 38 career two-goal games without finishing a hat trick, far surpassing the old record of 28 games by Hall of Fame defenceman Larry Murphy, who played for the Penguins’ Stanley Cup-winning teams in 1991 and 1992.
“I won’t have to talk about it (not scoring three) anymore. It is a relief. As much as I talked that it didn’t bother me, it did bother me, and now I feel pretty good,” said Sykora, who also had an assist during his sixth career four-point game, also his personal high.
It was the seventh time in Penguins history that two players had hat tricks in a game and the first since Mario Lemieux and Joey Mullen accomplished it April 9, 1993, against the Rangers.
Sykora put Pittsburgh ahead 3-1 by scoring 19 seconds after Mark Streit’s goal for the Islanders briefly cut Pittsburgh’s lead to one goal, then followed goals by Philippe Boucher and Malkin by scoring at 7:53 of the second on a power play to make it 6-1.
“This was one of those nights the puck kept coming to me,” Sykora said.
With his teammates pressing to get him the long-elusive third goal, Sykora looked to have scored it from the side of the net two minutes later. But the play was waved off, and afterward Sykora said Ruslan Fedotenko probably would have been credited with the goal even if it counted.
Sykora finally got No. 3 at 15:42 of the second, also on a power play, when Crosby put a pass on his stick in the slot and Sykora wristed it by goalie Yann Danis, who replaced Joey MacDonald to begin the second period.
“You’re looking for a guy when he’s got two goals, especially with that score, you might force it more than you normally would,” Crosby said. “He knows where to go and I just put it on his stick.”
Sykora leaped into Crosby’s arms to celebrate, triggering a brief delay to clear the scores of hats that were tossed onto the ice. It was his 10th goal.
“I can’t say enough about Sid, he told me the play – he’s going to walk down the right side and he’s going to give it to me,” Sykora said. “Sid made that play.”
Dupuis’ third goal, and sixth of the season, came with 3:12 remaining as he scored Pittsburgh’s first and last goals.
“Syk, he waited a little longer than me, but I think we’ll both remember that game we both scored our first hat tricks,” said Dupuis, who previously had three games with two goals.
The one-sided game was welcomed by the Penguins, who were playing their third game in four nights and their seventh in 11 days. Their losing streak was their longest they lost four straight from Nov. 7-12, 2007.
Penguins rookie John Curry stopped 24 shots to get the victory in his second career start. His only two career victories in three NHL games are against the Islanders. Curry beat them in relief on Nov. 26.
New York’s losing streak is its longest in regulation this season, although it was 0-5-1 from Oct. 18-Nov. 1.
“I’ve got to be better, I’d like to have at least two of them back,” said MacDonald, who gave up four goals on 19 shots in the first period. “That got them going, and then poor (Danis) went in there and kind of got hung out to dry.”
Notes: Crosby has 11 goals and 30 assists in 23 games against the Islanders. … New York allowed seven goals or more for the second time in seven games. … Crosby has gone six games without a goal since scoring three against the Devils on Nov. 29. … Boucher, injured for six games, scored his first with Pittsburgh.