Peca earns silent assist on teammate's hat trick

LANCE HORNBY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:29 AM ET

Michael Peca's silence was golden for Tomas Kaberle on Saturday night when the latter's historic hat trick was in doubt.

Televised replays of Kaberle's second goal raised the question whether his point shot glanced in off of Peca's leg, which would have negated the first three-goal game by a Maple Leafs defenceman since Borje Salming on Oct. 10, 1981 against the Chicago Blackhawks.

But even though Kaberle was still a goal shy of the trick at that time, neither Peca nor any Leafs player or club official who might have spotted it, took the opportunity to inform the referee. Many statistics-conscious players make sure the officials or the game scorer know the correct sequence, some in order to maximize new contract or bonus clause considerations.

Peca would have collected his 400th National Hockey League point had he spoken up, but without commenting on the replays yesterday, he didn't make a big fuss at Lakeshore Lions Arena.

"The ref might have said something, but you know what? Tomas might not get more than one hat trick the rest of his career," Peca said.

All scoring plays are reviewed on TV at the end of a game, but the Kaberle goal stood. Kaberle, no doubt, was grateful for any assistance Peca provided, spoken or not.

He added a shootout goal in the 5-4 win over Montreal.

"Who scored is not the important part. It's that we won," Kaberle said.

There was some confusion about just who was the most recent Leafs defenceman to get three goals in a game. Jim Korn had a trick on March 7, 1984 against New Jersey, but he had moved from defence to forward for that game.

Hockey Night In Canada omitted Salming when it said Ian Turnbull's five-goal game on Feb. 2, 1977 was the last one prior to Kaberle.

Kaberle is definitely the first Leafs defenceman to get a hat trick against Montreal and the first to get three in a road game since Claire (The Milkman) Alexander on Feb. 25, 1975 against the Minnesota North Stars.

Asked when his previous hat trick might have been, Kaberle guessed that it could have been during his days as a junior in the Czech Republic.

Or, he said: "Maybe in the backyard with my brother (Frantisek) and a tennis ball."


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