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2. april 2011 / PATRIK ELIAS' HAT-TRICK

Patrik Elias' eighth career hat-trick helped the Devils edge the Philadelphia Flyers 4-2 Friday in front of a sold out Prudential Center in Newark, NJ. With two goals in the second period including a shorthanded tally and another that came late in the third, Patrik was the difference maker in a crucial win that has kept the Devil's playoff hopes alive however unrealistic they may be at this juncture. If the Rangers or Sabres register a point in the next five games the Devils will miss the playoffs for the first time since 1996. It has been the Devils ability to tune out the outside world and just focus on each individual game however that has been the key to their second half turnaround.

"The situation we're in doesn't allow us to lose any points, so we play every game like it's our last," said Patrik who leads the Devils with 57 points (19 goals, 38 assists) and is second to Ilya Kovalchuk in goals.

For some reason or another, #26 always seems to elevate his game against the Philadelphia Flyers. Friday's performance makes it 32 career goals against Philadelphia, which is the most he's had against any team in his career.

Linemate Brian Rolston was a big reason why Patrik was able to record his first hat-trick since May 4, 2006. The veteran winger assisted on all three of Patrik's goals. The first marker came at 6:28 of the second period with the Devils trailing 1-0. Rolston flew into the zone uncontested, drove to the corner and dropped a pass to the high-slot as Patrik was cruising in late. The Czech center blasted a one-time shot through Brian Boucher to tie the contest. Under two minutes later, with the Devils down a man, Rolston led a 2-on-1 rush up the ice and tossed a tape-to-tape pass over to Patrik in the low slot. Patrik controlled the puck and flicked it over Boucher's outstretched pad to give his team the lead. Late in the third, with the Devils leading 3-2, Patrik put the final nail in the Flyer's coffin by finishing another rush led by Rolston. Rolston through a shot towards goal which was kicked away by Boucher, but Patrik was right there in front and the puck caromed off his skate into the net. After a video review, the goal was allowed and the victory was sealed.

"Brian set up those first two goals beautifully and I needed a little luck for the third," said Patrik. "I was very pleased with all the quality chances our offense produced and [Johan] Hedberg's great performance was also a key factor in our win."

Patrik talked about why the Devils have had such a remarkable run since the All-Star break.

"I think we have the right approach to each game. It's important that we don't exert ourselves or add any additional pressure on ourselves," he said.

Despite the Devils first-half meltdown, Patrik's 2010-2011 season has been a consistent bright spot. The star forward was the lone representative of the Devils in this year's All-Star Game and perhaps more importantly has remained virtually injury free after a frustrating 2009-2010 season which was plagued by knee problems and a concussion. He credits his new born daughter, Sophia for his recent string of good fortune. "My beautiful daughter has had a very positive influence on both my professional and personal life," he said. Patrik said he saved the hat-trick clinching puck to give to Sophia.

He was named the games 1st star.

Dan Altano

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