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Lebda tallies first NHL goal

by Staff Writer / Detroit Red Wings
DETROIT - Before heading out to St. Louis, Brett Lebda made sure that he left something behind in his locker drawer.

He lifted the lid, flicked his wrist and watched a goal puck hit the bottom.

"That's staying there," said a smiling Lebda, who scored a goal in his first career NHL game Wednesday night.

"It was unbelievable," he said, referring to the second period goal that put the Red Wings up by two en route to a 5-1 victory over the Blues.

"It's something you dream of as a kid. I couldn't ask for more than to play in my first NHL game and to come out and get your first goal in the first game and get the win was just a great feeling all the way around."

Before the training camp started, Lebda seemed destined for his second straight season in Grand Rapids (AHL). But the University of Notre Dame standout impressed the coaching staff and gradually moved his way up the depth chart.

"Basically, from our goal line to the red line he moves the puck and sees it pretty good, and he can really skate," said head coach Mike Babcock.

Through six pre-season games, Lebda picked up four assists and saw ice time in all situations, including the power play.

With a knee injury sidelining Nicklas Kronwall for 4-6 months, the Wings turned to Lebda to fill the final defensive roster spot. In doing so, he surpassed several defenseman with NHL experience.

"With the rules the way they are, when Nick Kronwall got hurt we thought we needed someone to get speed going in the other direction," said Babcock.

"I watched nine exhibition games and we kept giving him every opportunity to bury himself. We kept playing him, and playing him and he didn't bury himself, so here he is."
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