They may have been separated by a summer, but it will go down in the record books that Radim Vrbata has scored a hat trick in consecutive NHL games.
Vrbata led the Phoenix Coyotes to a 4-1 win over the New York Rangers on Thursday night in front of sellout crowd at Jobing.com Arena. His three goals came when the team needed them most: After a big power play that failed to score the go-ahead goal, when the Rangers were beginning to push for the tie and when the Coyotes needed to put the game, for lack of a better term, on ice.
"It's good. I'll take it," Vrbata laughed in the locker room after the game.
The Coyotes certainly will.
"We'll be alright if he only got one next game instead of three," joked head coach Dave Tippett after the game. "We can work with that."
Tippett also praised Vrbata's third goal, one that came on an extremely difficult angle.
"He's the guy that, when he gets opportunities, he scores. You could see that [Thursday]. There were some real good shots there [Thursday], especially that third one. He was in there real tight and he got it upstairs in a hurry."
And Vrbata's praise was deserved. His feat placed him among the Coyotes elite: He is the first Phoenix player to score a hat trick in a season opener. He's the first Coyote to have a hat trick in consecutive games since Jeremy Roenick accomplished as much on Nov. 25-26, 1999. He's also the first player to close a season and open the next season with a hat trick since Luc Robitaille in 1998.
After the game, Vrbata was asked if he knew what 3 times 82 is (spoiler: 246). He just laughed and shook his head.
"I'm not answering that."