Dopita Has Season’s First 4-Goal Game
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Jiri Dopita scored four goals in a game once before. But in the Czech Republic, it was a little easier.
``It’s different here,″ Dopita explained. ``There are more checks.″
Dopita, a 33-year-old Philadelphia rookie, tied a club record with four goals and added an assist as the Flyers thumped the Atlanta Thrashers 7-4 on Tuesday night to take over sole possession of first place in the Atlantic Division.
It was the first four-goal game this season in the NHL.
``I’m just happy to help,″ said Dopita, playing in his first NHL season after leading his team to five league championships in the Czech Republic. ``It was a lucky game for me today.″
Dopita had scored only two goals in his previous 25 games with the Flyers.
``It’s been hard for me,″ he admitted.
Flyers coach Bill Barber has noticed, and hopes this outburst is the spark his center needs.
``Four-goal games do not come very often,″ he said. ``This could be a turning point for Dopita as far as confidence goes. Even if you have confidence and have success, you still need confidence to play. There is a big adjustment here.″
In other games, it was Buffalo 3, Vancouver 2; Calgary 5, the New York Islanders 2; Dallas 2, Tampa Bay 1; Boston 3, Pittsburgh 2; Toronto 4, Nashville 3; Minnesota 4, Montreal 2; and St. Louis 6, San Jose 2.
Dopita’s four goals tied a franchise record reached 14 previous times, most recently by John LeClair against Vancouver in 1998.
LeClair and Justin Williams each had a goal and two assists, and Ruslan Fedotenko added a goal and an assist for the Flyers, who won their fourth straight home game and moved past the idle New York Rangers into the top spot in the division for the first time this season.
Ilya Kovalchuk scored two goals, and Lubos Bartecko and Patrik Stefan added the others for the Thrashers, who lost their fifth straight. Atlanta is winless in nine games (0-8-1) against Atlantic Division teams.
``Our guys were in the defensive zone all night,″ Atlanta coach Curt Fraser said. ``The Flyers are big and fast. They are all veterans and we could not make any mistakes, none, no turnovers.″
Eric Weinrich and Donald Brashear added two assists apiece for the Flyers.
Dopita’s goals, a one-timer, a tip-in, one off a goalmouth scramble and one from the right slot, gave the Flyers leads of 3-1, 4-2, 5-2 and 6-2.
Only the last one came on a power play.
Bruins 3, Penguins 2
Boston’s top line of Sergei Samsonov, Joe Thornton and Glen Murray scored a goal each, and the Bruins won in Pittsburgh for their eighth victory in 10 games.
Kris Beech and Jan Hrdina scored for Pittsburgh.
Maple Leafs 4, Predators 3
Mats Sundin scored twice in the third period as Toronto rallied past visiting Nashville.
Sundin tied the game at 3 and gave Toronto the win with his 25th at 13:49.
Tie Domi and Dmitry Yushkevich also scored for the Maple Leafs.
Martin Erat, Vitali Yachmenev and Greg Classen scored for the Predators, 1-12-1 in their last 14 road games.
Flames 5, Islanders 2
Jarome Iginla had a goal and two assists, and Roman Turek stopped 35 shots as Calgary won in New York.
Chris Clark added a goal and an assist, and Clarke Wilm, Dean McAmmond and rookie defenseman Steve Montador also scored for Calgary, which has won eight straight meetings between the teams.
Michael Peca and Shawn Bates scored for the Islanders.
Sabres 3, Canucks 2
Vaclav Varada scored twice as Buffalo won consecutive games for the first time in more than a month, beating Vancouver.
Tim Connolly scored the eventual game-winner and Martin Biron stopped 27 shots to record his first home victory since Nov. 23 and second win in his last 11 appearances.
Brendan Morrison and Todd Bertuzzi scored for the Canucks.
Stars 2, Lightning 1
Marty Turco won his seventh straight decision, and Joe Nieuwendyk and Mike Modano scored 33 seconds apart early in the third period as Dallas won in Tampa Bay.
Turco made 34 saves and is 7-0-0 with one no-decision in his past eight starts. He lost his shutout bid when Dave Andreychuk scored with 46.2 seconds left.
Dallas is 10-2-1 in its last 13 road games.
Wild 4, Canadiens 2
In St. Paul, Wes Walz had two goals, one short-handed, as Minnesota beat Montreal in Jacques Lemaire’s 600th game as an NHL coach.
Antti Laaksonen and Sergei Zholtok also scored for the Wild.
Andrei Markov and Shaun Van Allen scored for Montreal.
Blues 6, Sharks 2
Dallas Drake scored twice in the first period, and visiting St. Louis trounced San Jose.
Keith Tkachuk, Scott Young, Pavol Demitra and Chris Pronger also scored for the Blues, who extended their winning streak to three games.
Owen Nolan and Scott Thornton scored for the Sharks.