All along as he awaited to illuminate his first red lamp of the season, Detroit Red Wings center Frans Nielsen kept insisting that once he got one, more would soon follow. And since he got one, is he ever proving himself right.
Nielsen got off the snide with a goal in Saturday’s win at Boston, and then fired a hat-trick in Tuesday’s 6-5 shootout loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning.
“I think I’ve been in the league a long time enough that I know there’s a lot of ups and downs,” Nielsen said. “Sometimes stuff comes easy and sometimes not. When it’s not coming easy, you’ve just gotta work harder. That’s just part of the game.
“I knew I just had to keep working and eventually it’s going to come.”
Nielsen’s hat-trick was the first recorded by a Detroit player at Little Caesars Arena and the first by a Wing since Tomas Tatar netted three against the Anaheim Ducks on Dec. 17, 2016. It was Nielsen’s second NHL hat-trick.
“I’ve been struggling with that a little bit this year,” Nielsen said. “It’s always nice when you get a few.”
His teammates remained steadfast in their belief that Nielsen would find a way out of his slump.
“He’s been playing great all season long,” Detroit forward Gustav Nyquist said of Nielsen. “It just goes in ebbs and flows with the goals. He gets one in Boston and now he gets three. Great for him. He deserves it.
“He’s been in this league for a long time and he doesn’t get stressed about that stuff. He just sticks with it and plays the right way, Finally he’s gonna get rewarded.”
Forward Wade Megan is getting his second kick at the can as a Wing after going scoreless in six games during an earlier recall.
“I don’t know if I’d use the word comfortable, I’d say familiar, which is a good feeling to have,” Megan told Detroitredwings.com. “It’s good to come to Detroit and see some familiar faces and kind of work on some of the relationships that I built when I was here for that stretch earlier in the season.”
The Wings recalled veteran defenseman Brian Lashoff from Grand Rapids for Thursday’s game at Toronto for a variety of reasons, the main one being it’s almost a certainty that he won’t play.
“When I talk to (Grand Rapids coach) Ben Simon they tell me that he’s been consistently probably their best D,” Detroit coach Jeff Blashill said. “That’s what (Detroit assistant GM) Ryan Martin has said, that’s what (Detroit GM) Ken Holland has said, that’s what Ben Simon has said. The other D have played good, it’s not that they haven’t played good, but he’s been consistently their best.”
Minus Danny DeKeyser (hand) and Trevor Daley (lower body), the Wings didn’t want to be on the road in Toronto with just six healthy defensemen, but they also didn’t want to call up a prospect to just sit and watch others play.
“You’d rather bring up a wily veteran like Lash than a young kid to come up and potentially not play,” Blashill said.
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