After helping lead Sweden to the gold medal at the Olympics, Nicklas Lidstrom said he’s starting to get the jump back in his legs. The star defenseman proved it in his last game with his best offensive performance of the season.
With the playoffs looming, Lidstrom will look to build on his last effort and help surging Detroit earn a home-and-home sweep of the Phoenix Coyotes when the teams meet at Joe Louis Arena.
Lidstrom had a goal and three assists for his sixth career four-point night in the Red Wings’ 7-3 rout of the Coyotes on Saturday.
“I’m starting to feel better,” said Lidstrom, who scored the gold medal-winning goal in Sweden’s 3-2 win over Finland at the Turin Games. “My legs are starting to feel a lot better.”
The 15-year veteran and three-time Stanley Cup winner also was awarded his first career penalty shot, but his wrist shot was easily turned aside by Phoenix’s Philippe Sauve.
“He’s not going into any shootouts now,” quipped Red Wings coach Mike Babcock.
Henrik Zetterberg, an Olympic teammate of Lidstrom’s, had two goals Saturday to give him four goals and three assists during a three-game point streak. He needs one goal to reach 30 for the first time.
Detroit has won nine of its last 10 and leads Dallas by four points for the top spot in the Western Conference.
The loss wrapped up a 3-5-2 homestand for the Coyotes, leaving coach Wayne Gretzky disappointed in his team’s lack of consistency.
“It’s frustrating when you play the way you do the other night (a 6-2 win over Dallas on Thursday), then we don’t have the depth of Detroit, so our work ethic has to be more than theirs,” he said. “Obviously the first part of the game it wasn’t.
“You’re only as good as your last shift and we looked liked we were enjoying the fruits of our last victory too much.”
Sauve replaced starter Curtis Joseph, who allowed seven goals on 27 shots over two periods. Sauve finished with seven saves.
Shane Doan scored a power-play goal for the Coyotes, and has three goals and three assists during a six-game point streak.
Phoenix has not played on the road since a 5-3 win Jan. 26 at St. Louis. The Coyotes are in 12th place in West, 12 points behind eighth-place Edmonton with 21 games to play.