A week ago today there was speculation that the NHL might not have a 50-goal scorer for the first time since the 2003-04 season and for the first time since the lockout. Last night, however, Corey Perry became the 88th player in NHL history to achieve the historic mark thanks to his third career hat trick in a 6-2 victory over the San Jose Sharks.
“Fifty is a huge number,” Perry said. “Everybody talks about it, (but) not a whole lot of people get to do it and be in that category. It hasn’t really sunk in.”
The crowd at the game sure didn’t have any trouble letting the fact that Corey Perry had just all but secured his spot as the Rocket Richard winner as the player with the most goals in the NHL when they let loose chants of “M-V-P!” after the win.
The chants are deserved. Perry has been on an offensive tear this season as he has shattered previous career best numbers in both goals and points. In just his last 10 games, Perry has accumulated 14 goals and 22 total points. The hat trick also inches Perry closer to the first 100-point season of his career. Perry currently sits second overall in the league with 97 points, three behind Daniel Sedin.
Perhaps more importantly, Perry’s effort and the Ducks’ route of their division rival keep Anaheim alive in a very tightly contested Western Conference playoff race. The Ducks currently hold the 7th seed with 95 points, tied with Chicago who occupies the 8th seed. Both teams will likely hold their playoff spots, but the Dallas Stars still have some fight in them and have not been mathematically excluded from the postseason yet as they have 91 points and a game in hand on both teams.
“We knew we have to play our best hockey right now,” Perry said. “To come out and dominate like this shows we can play with anybody. We’re still not there yet, but we’re working hard.”
If things stay the same, Anaheim will meet San Jose in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs next week for what could be a highly intense matchup. Both teams have played incredible hockey since the All-Star break and have been impressive in the games leading up to the playoffs. San Jose is 8-1-1 over their last 10 while the Ducks are 7-3-0.
With only two games remaining, Steve Stamkos, who shared the Rocket Richard trophy with Sidney Crosby last season at 51 goals apiece, will likely fail to register his second consecutive 50-goal season. With only 44 on the year, Stamkos currently has the second most goals in the NHL. Jerome Iginla currently sits third with 42.