DETROIT – Nicklas Lidstrom crossed off about the only thing left on his NHL to-do list.
The star defenceman scored three goals for his first career hat trick and added an assist to help the Detroit Red Wings beat the St. Louis Blues 5-2 on Wednesday night.
“You always think you’re going to get one, sooner or later. You’ve got to continue to shoot the puck and hope for some bounces,” Lidstrom said. “You can’t quit shooting the puck, that’s the key to everything.”
The 40-year-old Swede, a six-time Norris Trophy winner as the NHL’s best defenceman, has helped Detroit win four Stanley Cup titles and also won the Conn Smythe Trophy as the playoffs MVP.
“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.”
The Detroit captain had 19 two-goal games in his 19-year career before breaking through.
“Well, obviously being a D-man, they’re (hat tricks) not going to come very often. Good for him,” Red Wings 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.”
Danny Cleary added a goal and two assists, Niklas Kronwall also scored, Henrik Zetterberg had four assists and Howard made 19 saves for Detroit, which had lost three of its last four games at Joe Louis Arena.
Carlo Colaiacovo and Brad Winchester scored for St. Louis. Jaroslav Halak stopped 32 shots.
Halak also praised Lidstrom.
“He’s a great player. He shows it every season,” Halak said about Lidstrom. “If he’s not the best, he’s one of the best defencemen in the league.”
Detroit scored twice in the final 3:53 of the second period to take a 3-1 lead.
Kronwall got his seventh goal on a shot from the top inside edge of the left circle and Cleary poked in a rebound for a power-play goal and his 14th of the season with 2:22 left.
Lidstrom added his second goal on a power play 2:46 into the third period, beating Halak with a slap shot from the point. Winchester’s power-play goal 6:42 into the third period closed the deficit to two. He tipped in Alexander Steen’s shot from the point.
Lidstrom completed his hat trick with an empty-netter in the final minute for his seventh of the season.
“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.”
Lidstrom opened the scoring 4:02 into the second period when Halak couldn’t handle his knuckling shot from the top of the left circle. Colaiacovo tied it 1:18 later on a backhander.
“It moved. It dropped two or three feet in front of me,” Halak said.
NOTES: Lidstrom is the second Detroit defenceman to record a hat trick since 1985-86. Mathieu Schneider did it twice. … St. Louis D Erik Johnson left the game after getting tangled up with the Red Wings’ Pavel Datsyuk in the first period. Blues’ coach Davis Payne said there was no update on Johnson after the game and the team would have something on Thursday. St. Louis was already without forwards T.J. Oshie (broken ankle), David Perron (concussion symptoms) and Andy McDonald (concussion) and defencemen Roman Polak (wrist laceration) and Alex Pietrangelo (upper-body injury). … Blues C Vladimor Sobotka was helped to the locker-room after taking Darren Helm’s shot off his leg with 6:52 left. There was also no update on his condition.