Detroit 7, St. Louis 2

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DETROIT (TICKER) —The Detroit Red Wings proved that a lot more than a few points in the Central Division standings separate them from the St. Louis Blues.

Sergei Fedorov recorded a natural hat trick and rookie Henrik Zetterberg scored twice to lead Detroit to a 7-2 rout and a four-point lead over St. Louis for the division title.

After missing the last two games with a back injury, Fedorov returned in style by scoring on his first two shots, including a tally on a breakaway just 45 seconds into the game.

“I think the first goal, it was a nice pass from (Brendan) Shanahan,” Fedorov said. “He tipped it in and I picked up the puck and didn’t see anybody and kept going on the breakaway.”

Fedorov converted a partial breakaway with 2:23 left in the first with a slap shot from the left faceoff circle.

“The second goal was a bad change by St. Louis,” he said. (Captain Steve Yzerman) gave a great pass. I shot it. Tried taking short side, but I went between the legs. The puck was bouncing, so that was lucky.”

The 33-year-old center completed his second hat trick of the season and the sixth of his career with his 27th goal at 4:42 of the second period to send rookie goaltender Curtis Sanford, who made just seven saves, to the bench.

“The third goal on the power play, it was right there,” Fedorov said. “Nobody took a shot at it, so I picked it up and put it at the net.”

Fedorov later picked up an assist to complete his first four-point effort of the season. He has seven goals and 13 assists during an 11-game points streak.

“I’m pleased with my game,” Fedorov said. “Physically, I felt fine. I got some stiffness earlier, but we took care of that. It didn’t bother me a bit. Just went on with business and concentrated on the game.”

Tomas Holmstrom scored a goal and set up another and defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom collected four assists for the Red Wings, who extended their winning streak to eight games. They are 11-0-0-1 in their last 12 overall and 8-0-0-1 in their past nine at home.

“There was extra emphasis on the point spread,” Detroit coach Dave Lewis said. “It’s a four-point swing. It doesn’t matter. If it’s a cliche, it’s true. We won and they didn’t, so that bumps us up two points. We have two more games against them that will be huge.”

Former Blue Curtis Joseph made 29 saves to raise his record to 8-1-0 in his last nine games. The victory was the 373rd of Joseph’s career, moving him past Andy Moog for 10th place on the all-time list.

“It was one of those games that went back-and-forth,” Joseph said. “Good chances at both ends. I like to see the puck and it seems I’m seeing it well and guys are doing a good job clearing it out. When that happens consistently, you’re going to win. We’re on a bit of a roll. We’ll just try to keep it going. You don’t want to take that scoring for granted. We’re playing with confidence. All lines are clicking, guys are hot and we need to keep the puck out of the net.”

The Red Wings also welcomed back defenseman Chris Chelios, who missed two games with an injured knee, but the rout allowed Lewis to rest several players in the third period. Yzerman sat out the third as a precaution because of a sore knee, while Lidstrom and Chelios also rested for most of the final 20 minutes.

“I had a sore ankle that kind of slowed me down,” Lidstrom said. “They told me to rest instead of going out there and playing the last 15 minutes or so. It felt pretty good, but it’s starting to stiffen up now since I took my skate off. Just precautionary. It happened in the second period. I sprained my ankle. It was a hit. My skate got caught in the ice. We’ll see tomorrow when I put the skate on.”

Shjon Podein and Pavol Demitra scored for St. Louis, which had its four-game winning streak snapped.

“They were very good tonight, but I think we made them better,” said Blues coach Joel Quenneville, whose team is 0-3 against Detroit this season. “We didn’t compete at the level required to win a hockey game.”

The Blues failed to gain a boost with the return of Keith Tkachuk and Doug Weight to the lineup. Tkachuk served a four-game suspension for cross-checking Minnesota’s Wes Walz on February 23, while Weight missed 10 games with a broken bone in his face.

“It’s embarrassing,” Tkachuk said. “It’s the biggest game of the year and we didn’t show up for it - a team we’re two points behind. Maybe we were just watching too much. Maybe we were in awe. That’s just embarrassing. We should all be embarrassed. This should have been a playoff atmosphere. It was for one team, but not for the other. That team toyed with us.”

Weight agreed.

“We were on our heels all night,” he said. “We didn’t play well once we got down. You’re still intense, but when you’re on your heels against a good team, you’re going to look stupid. That was the case tonight.”

Holmstrom’s 18th goal gave the Red Wings a 4-0 lead with 1:49 left in the second period and Darren McCarty pushed Detroit’s advantage to five goals with his 12th just 86 seconds into the third.

Zetterberg scored his 16th and 17th goals in a span of just under six minutes in the third. He has five points in his last four games.

Former Blue Brett Hull recorded an assist on Zetterberg’s second goal - the 600th of his career.

Podein spoiled Joseph’s bid for his fourth shutout of the season by scoring his first goal in 42 games, and Demitra added his 29th goal of the season about five minutes later. He has 11 goals and 13 assists over his last 14 games.

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