The last time Scott Hartnell scored, it was a natural hat trick in the second period of a heartbreaking loss to Boston. On Thursday night, his Gordie Howe hat trick led the Flyers to a 4-3 victory over Toronto.
Hartnell, the Flyers’ leading goal-scorer, kicked off the scoring at 14:38 of the first period when he avoided a pesky Dion Phaneuf, turned and shot the puck behind Toronto goaltender James Reimer for his 26th goal of the year. He celebrated by promptly dropping the gloves and fighting Phaneuf.
“I thought I got a cheap shot there right before that, going into the boards,” Hartnell said, “but I’ll take the five minutes and the goal for sure.”
He added an assist on a Claude Giroux goal in the second period to complete the Gordie Howe hat trick — a goal, an assist and a fight. Giroux had been in a slump, scoring only one empty-net goal since the Winter Classic.
Sergei Bobrovsky made 24 saves in the start in lieu of Ilya Bryzgalov, who was sent home with the flu. Flyers GM Paul Holmgren didn’t rule out the possibility of Bryzgalov returning for Saturday’s game.
Hartnell’s line, with Giroux and Jaromir Jagr, accounted for two goals and four points.
“Anytime you can get a Gordie — it doesn’t happen too often — I’ll definitely take it, but a win is always more important,” Hartnell said. “Everything is tightening up here in the standings. Teams below us are winning. The Rangers are winning almost every night, so we need these points.”
Three things …
What we saw/heard:
1. Last weekend in New York, the Rangers wore their Winter Classic jerseys vs. the Flyers. On Saturday, the Flyers will wear theirs against the visiting Rangers. No word on if the Flyers will begin using it as an alternate jersey the rest of the season.
2. Ilya Bryzgalov was sent home with the flu, so Justin Musciano, a 27-year-old Drexel Hill native — and concessions manager over at Citizens Bank Park — stood in at the morning skate. He was there already playing an early morning hockey game with Flyers president Peter Luukko.
3. Brayden Schenn notched his sixth goal of the season against his brother Luke’s team. There have been trade rumors about Luke coming here, although a report from TSN says that Toronto GM Brian Burke has no intention of trading Schenn.