DETROIT — Just when you thought Nick Lidstrom had done everything there was to accomplish in hockey, he adds another little flourish to his Hall of Fame career.
In his 1,442nd game, Lidstrom scored his first NHL hat trick.
“It’s a good feeling, a great feeling to finally get one after 19 years and having a lot of opportunities,” Lidstrom said after his three-goal game Wednesday night. “It’s nice to get some bounces.”
Of course, being the fine captain he is, it wouldn’t have been very much fun if he hadn’t done it in a victory. He and his Detroit Red Wings teammates managed to subdue the injury-riddled St. Louis Blues 5-2.
Lidstrom’s first goal was the first goal of the game and came at 4:02 of the second period. He was just below the left circle and fired the puck past Jaroslav Halak’s glove.
His second goal came at 2:46 of the third, on the power play, when he beat Halak from the high slot.
Finally, Danny Cleary, who also scored a power-play goal, found Lidstrom with Halak out of the net with 30 seconds to play.
“You just never know,” Lidstrom said. “Towards the end of the game, I thought Clears was going to look for me. I think the puck was standing up on end, just trying to get it on net and I got a lucky bounce again.”
The feat is also lucky for local Wings fans, who can get a free order of curly fries from Arby’s on Thursday with a copy of the box score.
As is typical of Lidstrom, he didn’t show a lot of emotion as the hats cascaded onto the ice in celebration of his feat.
“That’s how he is,” said Henrik Zetterberg, who assisted on all three of Lidstrom’s goals. “I think he’s pretty happy inside and relieved to get that one. I think he’s happy to get it on home ice in front of our fans.”
Most of the Wings, including Zetterberg, had no idea Lidstrom had never gotten a hat trick in his storied career.
“I didn’t know until the guys said it after the game here,” goaltender Jimmy Howard said. “It’s amazing. But he definitely deserves it. He’s Mr. Perfect. He does everything right.”
Maybe Lidstrom’s teammates didn’t know, but he did.
“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,” Lidstrom said. “I knew I had a chance there.”
For good measure, Lidstrom made it a four-point night by assisting on Cleary’s goal. Niklas Kronwall scored the Wings’ other goal, tying his career-high with seven this season.
According to research done at hockey-reference.com by Dave Hogg of the Associated Press, Lidstrom, 40, is the oldest player to get his first hat trick since at least 1987, passing former Wing Luc Robitaille, who was 39.
Lidstrom is the second Wings defenseman with a hat trick since 1985-86. Mathieu Schneider did it twice.
“Well, obviously being a D-man, they’re not going to come very often,” coach Mike Babcock said. “Good for him. He’s done everything else, might as well do that. He’s an exceptional player. Obviously, he’s been real steady for us, and he is each and every year. He’s like fine wine, he gets better with age.”
Lidstrom has had 19 two-goal games in his 19-year career.
“You always think you’re going to get one, sooner or later,” Lidstrom said. “You’ve got to continue to shoot the puck and hope for some bounces. You can’t quit shooting the puck; that’s the key to everything.”