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LeClair: 28 goals in 29 games vs. Canadiens

10/16/2002

MONTREAL (AP) -- John LeClair's fans from Vermont never regret making the hour-long drive to Montreal to see their hometown hero play.

LeClair, a native of St. Albans, Vt., scored four goals and Mark Recchi had a goal and two assists to lead the Philadelphia Flyers to a 6-2 win over the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday night.

"There's no question there's a lot of friends and family that come up,'' LeClair said. "Anytime you play here, it's a big thrill.''

LeClair, who began his career with Montreal, has 28 goals and 43 points in 29 regular-season games against the Canadiens since he was traded to the Flyers on Feb. 9, 1995.

It was his second career four-goal game. The other one also came against Montreal on Feb. 6, 1997.

"I couldn't explain it before and I probably can't explain it now,'' LeClair said. "There's something about playing in a city like Montreal. The hockey tradition -- I had a chance to taste it. I won a Cup here. It's just one of those cities you get a big charge when you come into.''

Marty Murray also scored for Philadelphia, which completed its season-opening three-game road trip with five of a possible six points.

"Now we've got to go home and try to see what we can do there,
but to go undefeated the first games out of the blocks -- especially
against three pretty good hockey clubs -- this was a good start,'' Flyers coach Ken Hitchcock said.

Yanic Perreault scored his second of the season and Saku Koivu
had a goal and an assist for Montreal.

Canadiens goalie Jose Theodore -- last season's NHL MVP -- has
allowed 12 goals in two home losses since opening the season with a
4-1 win over the Rangers in New York last Friday.

"It seemed that tonight every time I made a big save, they came back and they scored right away,'' Theodore said. "They caught me with one or two goals I'd like to have back so I'm just going to work twice as hard in practices and watch some video just to make sure my game gets back to where it should be.''

LeClair scored a power-play goal 11:47 into the first to put
Philadelphia up 2-0 after Recchi opened the scoring with his fourth
of the season at 8:11.

Perreault scored with 5:03 left in the first to draw Montreal to
2-1, and LeClair added his second of the game 3:54 into the second.

Koivu scored his first goal of the season at 7:17 to make it
3-2, but LeClair restored the Flyers' two-goal lead with another
power-play goal to complete his 11th career hat trick -- and first
since Dec. 6, 2000, against Tampa Bay -- with 3:37 left in the
second.

LeClair made it 5-2 with his fourth of the game -- and sixth of
the season -- 3:09 into the third.

"Johnny's always had great success here,'' Recchi said. "He said he'd like to play here about 12 times a year. Obviously, he's gotten off to a terrific start.''

Moments later, Flyers forward Todd Fedoruk was given an elbowing
major and a game misconduct for his hit on Montreal's Mariusz
Czerkawski along the right-wing boards at 3:53.

Murray got his first goal of the season with a short-handed
effort at 9:17 to increase Philadelphia's lead to four.

"I'm not going to blame one guy for the loss, that's not my
style,'' Canadiens coach Michel Therrien said. "We win as a team
and we lose as a team. Jose's got to be one of our top players.
Right now, he's having difficulties but I know that kid and he'll
bounce back.''

Game notes
All of LeClair's hat tricks have come with Philadelphia.
... Flyers captain Keith Primeau didn't play due to a bruised right
ankle sustained during Saturday's 5-4 win in Calgary. ... Flyers LW
Simon Gagne replaced Primeau _ who is day-to-day _ at center. ...
Canadiens defenseman Stephane Quintal appeared in his 900th career
game. ... Koivu scored his first regular-season goal since April 5,
2001. He had two assists in three games last season after
overcoming stomach cancer.