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Matt Read's rare night

SUNRISE, Fla. -- Two games into his promotion to Claude Giroux’s line, Matt Read is making the Flyers forget about Scott Hartnell going down with a foot fracture.

Matt Read's rare night

Matt Read (right) is congratulated by Claude Giroux (28) after Read scored against the Florida Panthers during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Sunrise, Fla., Saturday, Jan. 26, 2013. (Alan Diaz/AP)
Matt Read (right) is congratulated by Claude Giroux (28) after Read scored against the Florida Panthers during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Sunrise, Fla., Saturday, Jan. 26, 2013. (Alan Diaz/AP)

SUNRISE, Fla. -- Two games into his promotion to Claude Giroux’s line, Matt Read is making the Flyers forget about Scott Hartnell going down with a foot fracture.

Read netted his first career hat trick in Saturday night’s 7-1 rout of the lifeless Florida Panthers. It was the Flyers’ only hat trick against Florida and the first in nearly 17 years, following Eric Lindros on March 18, 1995.

When asked about his personal success, Read shrugged.

“It’s a credit to playing with two great linemates,” Read said. “I’m the beneficiary of that. It’s pretty easy. You just need to be in the right space at the right time.”

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Like most hockey players, Read is humble by nature. But he is selling himself short.

Read, 26, did not play with Giroux often last year, when he led all rookies in scoring with 24 goals. Even when Giroux or Danny Briere are feeding you the puck, you’ve still got to put it in the net yourself. Only Hartnell and Wayne Simmonds, his new linemate, were better than Read at that on the Flyers last season.

Among the 101 NHLers to score at least 20 goals last season, Read finished 21st in shooting percentage at 15.5 percent. He was just nudged out Hartnell (15.9 percent), who finished with a career-best 37 goals. Calgary's Curtis Glencross led the league at 23.2 percent.

“When he gets the puck, he knows what to do with it,” Giroux said. “It’s a lot of fun. He skates so well. He doesn’t get enough credit around the league for the type of player that he is.”

On Saturday night, Read scored his 3 goals on just 3 shots. How’s that for shooting percentage? All three of Read’s goals against Florida were shots from the slot area - no garbage goals or loose rebound put-backs.

Read is the 187th player since 1987 to score 3 goals in a game on exactly 3 shots; it’s been done 217 times, but some included repeats from the same player. 

How rare is that? Considering there’s been somewhere around 27,000 NHL games played since then, you have about a 0.008 percent chance of seeing it live in game as you did on Saturday.

He is the third Flyer to do it: Mark Recchi (10/2/02), Mike Richards (2/8/06), Mike Knuble (2/2/08).

“He’s a player that doesn’t make a lot of noise, some have a tendency to forget about him,” Briere said. “He had an excellent season last year. Hopefully (that line) is something that clicks and they’ll keep running with that.”

Flyers coach Peter Laviolette said he wasn’t sure he was going to find a line combination for Giroux that worked right away. Read, Giroux and Simmonds appear to fit seamlessly. They were the breakout line - combining for 6 points - on a night of offensive explosion. It was the first time the Flyers had netted 7 goals in a game since last March 29 against Toronto. The Flyers had scored just 5 goals in the first 4 games (1-3-0) of the season.

“We weren’t scoring 5-on-5 or even generating the chances that we wanted to early (in the season),” Laviolette said. “He had a really strong first year for us. He really looks good out there, he had a terrific game against the Rangers and tonight was more of the same.”

Fanfare or not, Read is a big believer that the “little things” in a hockey game are what earned him a spot in the NHL as an undrafted free agent. Turns out, they may be what allow him to build off a wildly successful rookie campaign.

“The chemistry is just clicking right now,” Read said. “We need to just keep working hard and doing the little things right and we’ll have offensive opportunities every night.”

SLAP SHOTS
Lost in the shuffle was another tremendous outing from Ilya Bryzgalov, who stopped 30-of-31 and made two highlight reel post-to-post stops in the second period ... Tye McGinn also scored his first NHL goal in the second period ... The Flyers jumped out to a 2-0 lead inside the first 10 minutes; the first time they’ve scored outside of the second period this season ... Mike Knuble played 14:23 in his first game as a Flyer since 2009 ... Ruslan Fedotenko scored his first goal as a Flyer since April 14, 2002, a span of 669 games played ... Luke Schenn netted his first goal as a Flyer and was credited with 11 hits, the most by a Flyer since Scott Hartnell at the Winter Classic last year. It was Schenn’s best performance as a Flyer thus far ... The Flyers will face Anders Lindback on Sunday evening in Tampa. No announcement yet as to whether Michael Leighton will get his first start of the season in the back-to-back set. Bryzgalov has started all 5 so far ... The Flyers must make a decision on rookie Scott Laughton before Sunday's game, though it appears that has already been made ... Eric Wellwood was sent back to AHL Adirondack before the game to make room for Briere. Wellwood had accompanied the team to Florida.

For the latest updates, follow Frank Seravalli on Twitter: @DNFlyers

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Frequent Flyers is your home for news and analysis of all things orange and black.

Frank Seravalli Daily News Staff Writer
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