April 6: Anaheim Ducks right wing Corey Perry is greeted by teammates after scoring against the San Jose Sharks in the first period of an NHL hockey game in Anaheim, California. (AP)
ANAHEIM, California (Reuters) - Anaheim Ducks winger Corey Perry smashed a hat-trick to become the first player to reach 50 goals in the NHL this season in a 6-2 thrashing of the San Jose Sharks.
Perry scored his milestone goal in the second period from the top of the crease, redirecting a pass from Teemu Selanne past Antero Niittymaki to give the Ducks a 4-1 lead.
He scored earlier on a snap shot and the eventual game-winner on a backhand.
"I thought 40 might be a stretch and then all the sudden they kept coming," said Perry, who is the first Ducks player to score 50 goals since Selanne in 1998.
"I don't think it will until it's all said and done when the summertime comes. It's an exciting number and hopefully there is more to come."
It is the first time Perry has scored 50 goals in a season and easily out-strips his previous best of 32 goals scored two seasons ago.
Perry holds a six-goal lead over Steven Stamkos of the Tampa Bay Lightning in the race for the Rocket Richard Trophy with two games remaining for both players.
(Reporting by Mike Mouat in Windsor, Ontario. Editing by Alastair Himmer.)