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Lidstrom's first hat trick powers Wings past Blues @NHL
Nineteen years and 1,442 games after he entered the NHL, Nicklas Lidstrom finally has a hat trick.

The six-time Norris Trophy winner scored three goals in a game for the first time in his NHL career on Wednesday night, leading the Detroit Red Wings to a 5-2 victory against the St. Louis Blues at Joe Louis Arena.

Lidstrom opened the scoring 4:02 into the second period, added a power-play goal 2:46 into the third and fired the third one into an empty net with 30 seconds remaining.

"He's done everything else," coach Mike Babcock said. "He might as well do that."

At age 40, Lidstrom has 7 goals and 26 points in 30 games.

"Like fine wine, he gets better with age," Babcock said.

Lidstrom opened the scoring when Blues goalie Jaroslav Halak couldn't handle his knuckling shot from the top of the left circle. Blues defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo tied it 1:18 later by beating Jimmy Howard with a backhander.

Niklas Kronwall put the Wings ahead to stay at 16:07 by beating Halak from the top inside edge of the left circle. Cleary poked in a rebound for a power-play goal and his 14th of the season with at 17:38.

"Once we got our legs going, I thought we took the game over," Lidstrom said.

Lidstrom added his second goal on a power play 2:46 into the third period, beating Halak with a slap shot from the point. Brad Winchester's power-play goal 6:42 into the third period made it 4-2. He tipped in Alexander Steen's shot from the point.

With Halak on the bench for an extra attacker, Lidstrom took a pass from Cleary and hammered a slap shot into the empty net for the milestone.

"I was just trying to get it on net," Lidstrom said of the empty-netter. "It's been a long wait -- 19 years before I got one."

Sabres 3, Bruins 2 | HIGHLIGHTS

Drew Stafford scored all three Buffalo goals for his third career hat trick as the Sabres beat Boston at HSBC Arena.

Derek Roy assisted on all of Stafford's goals, and Ryan Miller made 32 saves for the Sabres, who won for the first time in four meetings with the Bruins this season.

Stafford, Tim Connolly and Rob Niedermayer all returned for Buffalo after being sidelined with injuries. Stafford missed all but one of 16 games because of a shoulder injury. Connolly (groin) and Niedermayer (knee) were out the past eight games.

"I think I'm going to take another two weeks off and come back and get a couple points and hopefully win," joked Stafford, whose two other hat tricks came in blowout Buffalo victories. "You're hungry to get back. Unfortunately I got hurt, but I'm hoping those days are behind me and I can finish out the rest of the year healthy."

David Krejci and Michael Ryder scored, and Tuukka Rask finished with 32 saves for Boston, which has lost two straight.

Miller made his eighth consecutive start after missing two because of groin soreness. He improved to 5-2-1 during that span.

"We know we're a good team and we can win games," said Miller, who made his eighth consecutive start after missing two because of groin soreness. "It's up to us to stay patient. I thought we had a great presence."

Rask made his second start in seven games in place of Tim Thomas, who will likely start on Thursday at Montreal.

Stafford completed his hat trick with 9:05 left to give the Sabres a 3-2 left. In the left circle, he swatted Roy's pass from the slot on the power play past Rask.

"He's a skilled player that you're hoping to get offense from," Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said. "It gives us that extra dimension. He's strong, and has a great shot. I said coming out of training camp I think he was our best player."

Ryder gave the Bruins a short-lived 2-1 advantage with his ninth of the season on the power play 6:21 into the third. After picking up the puck in the neutral zone, he split Steve Montador and Jochen Hecht, deked Miller, and slid in a shot.

But Stafford tied it 32 seconds later with his second of the game. In the slot, he one-timed Roy's pass from the right circle past Rask.

Krejci opened the scoring with his fifth of the season with 2:31 left in the first period. From the low slot he redirected defenseman Dennis Seidenberg's pass from the left point.

Stafford tied it with a power-play goal with 79 seconds remaining in the first. After Roy's rebound attempt went off the post, Stafford chipped in the puck on the backhand.

"Our penalty kill has got to be better," Boston coach Claude Julien said. "It was not on top of its game. We gave them the shots and the looks they wanted, and we didn't react very well."

Lightning 2, Thrashers 1 (SO) | HIGHLIGHTS

Victor Hedman scored in the fourth round of a shootout to give Tampa Bay a victory against Atlanta at the St. Pete Times Forum.

Hedman has scored just 2 goals in 30 games this season. The defenseman's goal was the lone one in the shootout.

"Last game we had a shootout, he was just looking at me with those eyes," Tampa Bay coach Guy Boucher said of Hedman. "Usually, whatever league I was in, I always choose those guys. They want it, and it usually works out."

Sean Bergenheim scored for the Lightning, who have beaten the Thrashers eight straight times. Rich Peverley had the lone goal for the Thrashers.

Lightning captain Vincent Lecavalier returned after missing 15 games because of a right hand fracture. The center, injured at Washington on Nov. 11, had surgery four days later to insert a plate and screws to secure an unstable fracture.

"I felt really good," Lecavalier said. "I thought my legs would be tired in my first game back, but I had a hop in my skating."

Peverley scored Atlanta's sixth shorthanded goal of the season for a 1-0 lead at 13:56 of the first period.

"We're pleased we only gave up a goal, but our goal is to score," Atlanta coach Craig Ramsay said. "We had some opportunities and we didn't cash them in. When you're presented with some chances to score, you've got to get it done."

Thrashers goalie Ondrej Pavelec stopped a pair of in-close shots by Lecavalier during the frame.

Bergenheim tied at 1 with 5:42 left in the second right after he served a high-sticking penalty. He beat Pavelec to Randy Jones' clearing pass into the right circle and scored after the goalie's poke check bounced off Bergenheim's skate and wound up near the forward's stick.

Pavelec finished with 30 saves. Mike Smith, in his first game since allowing five goals on 22 shots over 41 minutes of an 8-1 loss to Boston on Dec. 2, stopped 27 shots for the Lightning.

"I felt prepared," Smith said. "I've been working this past week on fundamental stuff. I just went in there and said, 'Play your game.' I was much more relaxed."

Hurricanes 4, Panthers 3 | HIGHLIGHTS

Tuomo Ruutu scored two third-period goals and Carolina rallied from a three-goal deficit to beat Florida at the BankAtlantic Center.

Ruutu's goals came 1:28 apart as the Hurricanes overcame a 3-0 deficit and beat the Panthers in Florida for the first time in five games. Erik Cole and Jamie McBain also scored, and Justin Peters had 21 saves for Carolina in a relief role.

Evgeny Dadonov, Michael Frolik, and Bryan McCabe had goals for Florida, which got 30 saves from Tomas Vokoun.

Ruutu's first goal came on a 5-on-3 power play and made it 3-3. He took a pass from Jeff Skinner in front and scored with a wrist shot at 12:20. Ruutu then picked off a pass from Vokoun in front of the crease and scored the game-winner with another wrister past Vokoun at 13:48.

"It was just an early Christmas present," Ruutu said. "If I said I was reading (Vokoun) I would be lying. It was being in the right place at the right time. We haven't won in this building for so long. It's a step forward for us."

Carolina began its comeback in the second period. Skinner made a nifty move near the blue line by passing the puck between the legs of defenseman Mike Weaver, skated around him to regain the puck, and brought it into the Panthers' zone. His shot was blocked by Vokoun, but Cole grabbed the rebound and put a wrist shot past Vokoun at 14:39.

The Hurricanes closed to 3-2 at 7:02 of the third on McBain's first goal of the season.

"It's inexcusable to lose a lead like that. There's no sugarcoating it," Panthers coach Pete DeBoer said. "We didn't get the right plays at the right times from our goaltender on out. We've got to find a way to fix it because those things don't happen to good teams."

The Panthers scored their first two goals less than two minutes into the game, chasing goalie Cam Ward from the game. The first came 29 seconds in when Shawn Matthias won a faceoff and pushed the puck out to Marty Reasoner, who fed the puck to Dadonov in front. It was the first NHL career goal for the 21-year-old Dadonov and the fastest opening goal for the Panthers this season.

Florida went up 2-0 when Chris Higgins passed the puck from the left circle across to Frolik in the right circle. Frolik shot a backhander that beat Ward at 1:42. Ward faced only five shots before being pulled in favor of Peters.

"It's not his fault, but I hold him to a higher standard," Carolina coach Paul Maurice said of Ward.

The Panthers quickly took advantage of Peters during a 5-on-3 power play when Dennis Wideman sent the puck from the left circle to McCabe above the right circle. McCabe's slap shot made it 3-0 at 5:16 of the first.

"This is one of the toughest games I've lost in my career," Vokoun said. "There's no words that can describe it. It was my mistake and you can't make that mistake at that point in time. I'm disappointed in myself."

Predators 3, Sharks 2 | HIGHLIGHTS

Sergei Kostitsyn and Colin Wilson scored goals 44 seconds apart late in the third period and Nashville earned its fourth straight victory by beating San Jose at Bridgestone Arena.

Jordin Tootoo also scored for the Predators, who have at least one point in nine consecutive games.

Kostitsyn tied it 2-2 with 3:16 left when he put a shot between Antti Niemi's pads. Wilson then scored the game winner with 2:32 remaining.

"It was really a fast-paced game," Wilson said. "I think to get those two quick goals was great for our team and great for our confidence.

"Winning always feels good. But I think winning in dramatic fashion feels even better."

Niclas Wallin and Dany Heatley scored for the Sharks, who led 1-0 and 2-1.
"Winning always feels good. But I think winning in dramatic fashion feels even better." -- Colin Wilson
The Sharks went ahead the first time when Wallin scored with a slap shot from above the left circle at 7:25 of the first period. That quickly ended Nashville goalie Anders Lindback's bid for a third straight shutout.

Nashville tied it 12:14 into the second period. Tootoo, battling on the boards behind the net, managed to backhand the puck in front where it was knocked in by San Jose's Scott Nichol, who was stationed at the left post.

"Nashville is a good hockey team and they are going to push," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. "I thought we made a few soft plays in the neutral zone that allowed them to come into our zone in the third period.

"Even after it goes 2-2 we should have enough poise and enough composure to manage the game properly to get it to overtime and see what happens there. Our game management was poor at the end. It's unacceptable."

The Sharks took a 2-1 lead with 2:34 left in the second. Heatley skated in from the right side and put the puck between Lindback and the right post during a power play. But the Swedish rookie stood tall after that.

"Anders faced some of the best shooters in the world and one of the best lines in the League in Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau and Dany Heatley," Preds coach Barry Trotz said. "Anders withstood the pressure very well. That should really help his confidence."

Canucks 3, Blue Jackets 2 (OT) | HIGHLIGHTS

Ryan Kesler scored all three of Vancouver's goal -- including the game-winner at 3:30 of overtime -- to lead the Canucks past Columbus at Rogers Arena.

Kesler capped his first three-goal game on the power play at 3:30 of the extra period, taking a saucer pass from Daniel Sedin on a 2-on-1 and roofing a shot over sprawling goaltender Mathieu Garon.

"That's when the power play has to win the game for the team," Kesler said. "It was just a great play by Hank (Henrik Sedin) and Danny to get me the puck. It was an easy goal. It feels good. It was a solid effort by everybody tonight."

The Canucks (17-8-4) posted their seventh win in nine games and have lost only once in regulation time since Nov. 21. The Blue Jackets (16-11-3) are off to their best start in club history despite suffering their fifth straight road loss.

The Blue Jackets found themselves a man short in overtime after Jan Hejda took a boarding penalty for crunching Vancouver's Dan Hamhuis.

Derick Brassard and Tom Sestito, with his first NHL goal, scored for the Blue Jackets in regulation.

Kesler converted a give-and-go with Alex Edler following a turnover near the Columbus blue line during a Blue Jackets line change with 22.9 seconds left in the first to give Vancouver a 1-0 lead.

"He certainly was the best player on the ice," Columbus coach Scott Arniel said of Kesler. "Sometimes he gets overshadowed by other players on the team but his speed and his skill are real dangerous."

Garon didn't see much action in the second as the Canucks managed only one shot before Brassard tied it for Columbus at 9:02, fooling Roberto Luongo with a wrist shot to the short side on a 2-on-1.

Columbus carried the play in the middle period, but just 1:48 later, Kesler restored the Canucks' lead after Blue Jackets defenseman Rostislav Klesla overskated a bouncing puck in front of Garon.

"The second one was obviously kind of lucky," laughed Kesler, "and it felt like the puck was magnetized to me tonight and it was finding me. Just one of those games where you feel good out there."

After Blue Jackets winger Jakub Voracek backhanded the puck off the crossbar early in the third, Sestito tied it 2-2 at 7:34, deflecting Mike Commodore's power-play shot past Luongo.

"They came back at us hard and they threw a lot of pucks at net," Kesler said. "Louie made the saves he needed to. We got it done in overtime." 

With 3:15 left to play in overtime and Columbus pressing, Kesler dove to block a shot and break up a 2-on-1. Through 29 games, Kesler leads the NHL in blocked shots by a forward with 40.

"He's massive and the thing I like the most isn't any of the goals -- it's the backcheck in the third where he dove across and negated a 2-on-1," Luongo said. "For me, that was the nicest play he made all game."

Avalanche 4, Blackhawks 3 | HIGHLIGHTS

Tomas Fleischmann's hat trick powered Colorado to a victory at Chicago and a sweep of a home-and-home series against the Hawks.

For's full recap, click here.

Devils 3, Coyotes 0 | HIGHLIGHTS

Ilya Kovalchuk scored twice and Martin Brodeur made 29 saves for the 113th shutout of his career as New Jersey blanked Phoenix at the Prudential Center.

For's full recap, click here.

Material from wire services and team media was used in this report.
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