Gilles Hamel is most effective when he is skating hard, digging in the corners and checking. So when he scores two goals and adds an assist like he did in the Sabres' 7-2 win over the Philadelphia Flyers in Buffalo, N.Y., Wednesday night, it's an added bonus.
'My thing is to play hard. I needed a couple of checks to wake up,' said Hamel, recently recalled from Buffalo's minor-league team in nearby Rochester. 'I've never scored a professional hat trick, but I won't have nightmares. I had something to prove.
'It's better being here. There (Rochester), there's long bus trips and everything. Here, it's paradise.'
Buffalo jumped to a 3-0 first-period lead on Hamel's two goals that were sandwiched around Gil Perreault's 10th of the season. The Sabres outshot the Flyers 14-3 in the period.
'Tonight was our night,' said Dale McCourt, who played on the line with Hamel and Sean McKenna that scored three goals. 'We skated well. We needed a couple of wins under our belt. We had a tough start, but the young guys have settled down. We had to gel.'
In other games, the New York Rangers edged St. Louis 5-4, Washington blanked New Jersey 3-0, Hartford topped Quebec 7-5, Pittsburgh nipped Edmonton 5-4, Toronto whipped Detroit 8-2, Chicago clipped Montreal 6-3, and Vancouver downed Los Angeles 4-2. Rangers 5, Blues 4 At New York, Don Maloney scored on a power play off a pass from Mike Rogers 19 seconds into the third period to lift the Rangers. Capitals 3, Devils 0 At Landover, Md., goaltender Al Jensen recorded the first shutout of his NHL career and extended New Jersey's winless streak to 11 games, leading Washington. Whalers 7, Nordiques 5 At Hartford, Conn., Ray Neufeld and Pierre Larouche scored two goals each as the Whalers continued their home domination of Quebec. Since joining the NHL from the old World Hockey Association four years ago, the Nordiques are 0-5-4 on Hartford ice. Penguins 5, Oilers 4 At Pittsburgh, rookie Rod Buskas, Peter Lee and Anders Hakansson each scored his first goal of the season to highlight a five-goal Penguins uprising in the second period. Maple Leafs 8, Red Wings 2 At Toronto, Miroslav Frycer and Bill Harris each scored twice to power Toronto to its rout. Frycer scored his third and fourth goals of the season during the third period as the Maple Leafs scored the final six goals of the game. Black Hawks 6, Canadiens 3 At Chicago, Rich Preston's goal 16 seconds into the third period ignited a three-goal period that broke the Canadiens' four-game winning streak. The victory, achieved before a crowd of 18,429, kept the Black Hawks unbeaten in their last seven games. Canucks 4, Kings 2 At Vancouver, British Columbia, Ivan Hlinka's sixth goal of the season was the game-winner midway through the second period as the Canucks moved into a second-place tie with Edmonton in the Smythe Division. Both have 17 points and are one point behind the division-leading Kings.