It was the first NHL hat trick for the 21-year-old forward who was called up from the Syracuse Crunch of the American Hockey League on Oct. 24.
With the Lightning leading 3-1 and facing a shorthanded situation in the second period, Paquette recovered a loose puck in the neutral zone to generate a 2-on-1 opportunity with center Brian Boyle. Paquette faked the pass and snapped a wrist shot past Red Wings goalie Petr Mrazek at 11:03 for his third goal of the game.
“I didn’t realize in the moment honestly,” Paquette said. “I wanted to pass to Boyle but he kept telling me to keep it and take the shot. I think I did a pretty good job. Honestly, I don’t have a lot of hat tricks in my career, so I’ll take that one.”
Steven Stamkos and Mark Barberio scored for the Lightning (31-15-4), who tied a franchise record with their ninth consecutive win at home and moved into first place in the Atlantic Division with 66 points.
Detroit (28-12-9) had its six-game winning streak end.
“I thought we had good attention to detail, I thought we played good,” Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “I thought that might have been our best first period in a while. The puck just went in the net. Let's be honest; it was in the net every time they shot it. So you're down by, well not quite a touchdown, but a chunk right off the get-go."
Paquette scored 2:03 into the game. Defenseman Jason Garrison took a shot from the point that was redirected by Alex Killorn toward the goal, and Paquette got his stick on the loose puck and sent the rebound past Mrazek.
“I couldn’t have been happier for Cedric Paquette,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. “He was feeling it tonight. The boys were really fired up on the bench for him. That kid has been grinding it out forever for us, trying to find his way, and pucks haven’t been going in, and they went in [Thursday]. He’s earned every break he got [Thursday].”
Paquette had gone 29 games without scoring a goal going into the All-Star break on Jan. 20. Since then, he has four goals in the past two games.
“Twenty-nine games is a long time, and you try not to think about it because my job here is not necessarily to be a scorer,” Paquette said. “But when you are young you always think of ways to score goals in the NHL.”
Red Wings center Darren Helm tied the game at 11:59 of the first when he scored on a wraparound, using Lightning defensemen Nikita Nesterov and Garrison as a shield to slip the puck past goalie Ben Bishop on the stick side.
“Yeah, you know I think the first period we didn’t actually play bad,” Red Wings forward Henrik Zetterberg said. “But the second period and third period obviously didn’t go our way. They scored three goals, one shorthanded, and it’s tough to come back from that.”
“I didn’t know [Paquette] had a shot like that, so hopefully he’ll keep shooting,” Bishop said. “Anytime you see guys like that sacrifice their body every night, blocking shots to get a hat trick at home, it’s pretty cool.”
Stamkos’ 27th goal came on a power play at 4:18 of the second period on a one-timer from the left circle past the glove of Mrazek, who was pulled after the second period for backup Tom McCollum.
“I thought Petr gave us the best game he could, we didn’t give him a lot of help there,” Red Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall said. “We all needed to do a better job tonight, especially before things got out of hand in the second period.”