Nineteen years and 1,442 games after he entered the NHL, Nicklas Lidstrom
finally owns 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 on Wednesday night. He 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.
"Obviously being a D-man, they're (hat tricks) not going to come very often. Good for him," coach Mike Babcock said about Lidstrom. "He's done everything else, might as well do that. We needed a big win tonight and we got it. That's what's most important."
At age 40, Lidstrom has 7 goals and 26 points in 30 games. He's playing well enough to add to his collection of Norris Trophies.
"Like fine wine, he gets better with age," Babcock said.
It was another accomplishment on a resume that includes four Stanley Cups and the half-dozen Norris Trophies.
"He doesn't screw up! And if he does, it's really quiet. He's just the perfect professional," Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard said. "He goes about his business in the right way and I think that's why everyone really has that perception of him. He comes to work every single day not only during the season but during the summer."
Lidstrom had 19 two-goal games before finally getting hat trick No. 1.
"I was aware of it, that I hadn't had one, especially when you're 0 for 19 years and you know you haven't had one," he said. "I knew I had a chance there."\
Halak, who finished with 32 saves, also had praise for Lidstrom.
"He's a great player. He shows it every season," Halak said "If he's not the best, he's one of the best defensemen in the league."
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."
Material from team media and wire services was ued in this report