Sidney Crosby made the Pittsburgh Penguins' cap night giveaway at Mellon Arena an appropriate one on Saturday night. The centre scored his fourth career hat-trick and second this season and added two assists as the Penguins beat the New York Rangers 8-3. Crosby's third goal, midway through the final period, prompted home supporters to shower the ice with their headwear, the tradition in the NHL. "It's always fun to get the hat -trick, but especially tonight it was a lot of fun," said the Pirates' captain.
"It was pretty weird the way it worked out, but what better time to do it?" The defeat means the Rangers have not won in regulation time in their last 13 attempts at the Mellon Arena. "When I walked into the building and saw the free hats, the thought did cross my mind that hopefully somebody would get a hat-trick to see those things on the ice," said the Pittsburgh coach Dan Bylsma said. "It takes a little bit of extra time, but I liked why they went on the ice."
The Boston Bruins moved into first place in the NHL's Northeast division after Michael Ryder scored the only goal of a shoot-out for a 4-3 victory over the Ottawa Senators. Ryder beat Ottawa netminder Brian Elliott in the fourth round of the shootout to give the Bruins their fifth win in six games. "He's been working on it in practice and he's getting better. Maybe he didn't have too many shoot-out chances early in his career," Boston coach Claude Julien said of Ryder.
"I feel like I think too much, maybe that was the difference," said Ryder of his goal. "I just went on instinct. I really didn't know what I was going to do going in on him." The Senators' Milan Michalek had forced the game into overtime when he scored his second goal with just 20 seconds left. The Washington Capitals won in almost identical circumstances, with Nicklas Backstrom scoring the only shoot-out goal in their 4-3 triumph over the Montreal Canadiens.
The Caps replaced netminder Semyon Varlamov with an extra skater in the final seconds and the move paid off as Eric Fehr scored his second goal of the game with 11.4secs remaining to level the match at 3-3. "Well, I'm glad we came back," said Washingon coach Bruce Boudreau, who saw his team throw away a 2-0 lead. "That's the first time we've scored with the goalie pulled and I think we only had like 15 shots on goal at that time, so I wasn't too hopeful until the last three minutes when we started to put a little bit of a push on."
The Vancouver Canucks scored five goals in the first period, including four in the first nine minutes, as they beat the Edmonton Oilers 7-3. "We attacked them right away and got rewarded for it," said Vancouver captain Roberto Luongo, who made 31 saves to help the Canucks win for the fourth time in five games. "We wanted to get on them right away. We knew they were a tired team." Johan Hedberg enjoyed his first shut-out in two years to help the Atlanta Thrashers see off the Philadelphia Flyers 1-0.
The win was Atlanta's first in 15 games against the Flyers. "It's a big mental break. They've had our number since I've been here," said Hedberg, who stopped 34 shots to hold Philadelphia at bay. * With agencies