Nicklas Lidstrom recorded the first hat-trick of his lengthy career to power the Central Division-leading Detroit Red Wings to a 5-2 victory over the St Louis Blues on Wednesday.
The 40-year-old Swede, a winner of six Norris Trophies for top defenseman, netted the game’s opening score in the second period and added two more goals in the third.
Lidstrom’s shot into an empty net with 30 seconds remaining sealed his achievement in his 19th year as a professional.
“It’s been a long wait — 19 years before I got one,” Lidstrom told reporters. “I was just trying to get [the last shot] on net. Once we got our legs going, I thought we took the game over.”
Niklas Kronwall and Danny Cleary chipped in with scores in the second where the Red Wings (20-7-3) stormed to a 3-1 lead en route to their third win in four games.
Detroit was coming off a 5-0 shutout loss to the Los Angeles Kings on Monday when they attempted 51 shots and came up empty.
The Red Wings fared much better against St Louis goaltender Jaroslav Halak, who finished with 32 saves.
The Blues (14-10-5), who are in last place in the division, got goals from Carlo Colaiacovo and Brad Winchester yet suffered a second straight defeat.
Netminder Jimmy Howard made 19 stops after he had allowed five goals in two of his last four starts entering the game.
However, the night belonged to Lidstrom who had recorded 19 multi-goal games during his career before his hat-trick.
“He’s done everything else. He might as well do that,” Detroit coach Mike Babcock said. “Like fine wine, he gets better with age.”
CANUCKS 3, BLUE JACKETS 2, OT
In Vancouver, Ryan Kesler scored a power-play goal early in overtime to complete his first NHL hat trick and lift the Vancouver Canucks past Columbus.
Kesler, who had 11 previous two-goal games, took a pass from Daniel Sedin on a 2-on-1 break and fired a quick shot over the outstretched pad of goalie Mathieu Garon. Vancouver improved to 7-1-1 its past nine games.
Columbus’ Tom Sestito had tied it with his first NHL goal and point on a power play in the third period. Derick Brassard also scored for the Blue Jackets.
In other NHL action, it was:
‧ Flyers 5, Canadiens 3
‧ Rangers 4, Penguins 1
‧ Ducks 2, Capitals 1, OT
‧ Lightning 2, Thrashers 1, SO
‧ Predators 3, Sharks 2
‧ Avalanche 4, Blackhawks 3
‧ Sabres 3, Bruins 2
‧ Hurricanes 4, Panthers 3
‧ Devils 3, Coyotes 0