The first hat-trick of the career of 22-year-old Ottawa Senators striker Josh Norris was memorable for him because of the opposing team.
Norris, a native of Michigan who drew to cheer on the Detroit Red Wings, scored three goals in Sunday’s 5-2 win over the visiting Wings.
“Definitely a little bit extra special,” Norris said.
Ottawa swept the weekend home and home against Detroit.
Norris, who also scored in Friday’s 5-2 win over Detroit, reached his empty net goal this season this season.
“I try to play my best every night and let the results take care of themselves,” Norris said. “It’s a long year and many ups and downs, so I try not to get too far ahead of myself and just be in the moment and do the best I can.
“You certainly do not get to 30 without some good teammates and linemates.”
Norris admitted he probably hadn’t scored a hat-trick since pee-hockey.
“I’ve never had one in junior, college or anything. It feels good,” he said.
His linemate Mathieu Joseph, who picked up his own hat-trick on Friday in Detroit, had three assists on Sunday as he moved to the top line along with Norris and captain Brady Tkachuk.
Joseph has three goals and five assists in six games with Ottawa since being acquired by the Tampa Bay Lightning trade deadline.
The senators honored the late owner Eugene Melnyk before the match. Melnyk, 62, died last Monday after a long illness.
The tribute included a video montage of Melnyk over the years since he bought the Senators in 2003. Players will wear a commemorative badge with the initials “EM” on their jerseys for the rest of the season.
“I think it was special for us to win that match,” Senators coach DJ Smith said. “Just honoring him and being able to leave the building a winner on his night, I think is special.”
Norris, who is in the final year of his contract with Ottawa, is the first senator in a decade to reach the 30 goals. Tkachuk expects a big payday for Norris.
“He’s hot right now,” Tkachuk said. “Every time he touches the puck, it has a chance to go in, so super excited, super amazing.
“He’s playing great right now for us, so it’s definitely exciting. Every time it goes in, cha-ching, so a little more money comes to him.”
Artem Zub and Nikita Zaitsev, with an empty goal, also scored for the Senators (25-37-6), while Anton Forsberg had a solid outing with 30 saves.
Michael Rasmussen and Dylan Larkin scored for the Red Wings (26-34-9), which is hit by a six-game losing streak. Thomas Greiss stopped 31 shots.
The losing streak weighed heavily on Detroit’s lineup.
“There’s no doubt we’re mentally down right now,” Detroit head coach Jeff Blashill said. “Now, that’s not an excuse. We have to fix it, but that’s the reality of it, and we have to climb out of it.”
After 3-1, the Larkin Red Wings gave some life with a beautiful goal in the backhand with just over seven minutes left of regulation.
But Detroit failed to capitalize on a number of good chances during a powerplay in the final minutes of the game.
“We did not create enough again,” Larkin said. “We did not make it difficult enough for their goalkeeper. But we are right there.”
Norris scored twice in the second period as the Senators led 3-1 after 40 minutes. His first was a power-play goal on a feed from Tim Stutzle. Norris beat the Greiss blocking side from the left faceoff circle in 2:32.
Norris’ 15th power-play goal this season made him the first to reach that mark since Dany Heatley in 2008-09.
He scored his second goal with equal strength at 14:16 as he jumped on a Nick Holden rebound from the castle.
Tyler Ennis left the game early in the second period and did not return after being hit by Gustav Lindstrom.
After the match, it was announced that Ennis is likely to finish for the season.
Detroit opened the scoring at 7:21 in the opening period as Rasmussen slipped the puck through Stutzle’s legs and hit the Forsberg blocking side.
Zub beat Greiss through the legs and equalized the match 1-1 with less than two minutes left of the first period.
Notes: Ennis played in his 700th NHL game. . . The Red Wings were without Tyler Bertuzzi. He is unable to travel to Canada because he is unvaccinated.
This report from The Canadian Press was first published on April 3, 2022.