Sometimes called “Lucky Lindy” among the Carolina Hurricanes, forward Elias Lindholm said he did feel lucky Sunday.
While Lindholm scored his first career hat trick in the Canes’ 7-4 win against the Edmonton Oilers, he said his three goals all came on shots to an open or empty net.
He also had two assists, but shrugged off the feat Monday as “an easy five points” and credited teammates for doing the hard work.
“It’s the only night in my life that has happened,” Lindholm said, smiling. “I didn’t think I played that good, actually. Nothing special.”
Lindholm said it was his first hat trick in official game competition since he was 12 or 13 years old, as a child in Sweden. He did have one in a Canes exhibition game last fall, but those don’t count.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Lindholm became the youngest Carolina player (20 years, 96 days) to have a hat trick since the franchise relocated to North Carolina in 1997. General manager Ron Francis holds the franchise record, scoring his first hat trick at 20 years, five days old in March 1983.
Lindholm also is the youngest to notch a five-point game since the franchise relocation – and, yes, Francis holds that franchise record, too.
It’s games like Sunday’s that underscore why the Hurricanes made Lindholm their first-round draft pick and the fifth overall selection in 2013. It offered another snapshot, another intriguing glimpse of his skill and potential.
Asked Monday about Lindholm’s ceiling as a player, Canes coach Bill Peters said, “Oh, it’s high-end. He’s a high-end player. He should be able to play on a No. 1 line and hopefully at some point be a center on a No. 1 line in the NHL.”
Lindholm was lucky Sunday when Oilers forward Nail Yakupov delivered a high, jolting blow in open ice in the first period.
“I didn’t see him coming and kind of lost the puck,” said Lindholm, who was not injured.
But it was his early mistakes, Lindholm said, and not Yakupov’s big hit that spurred him on.
“I wasn’t mad about (Yakupov),” he said. “I thought I was pretty bad early, couple of turnovers.”
Trailing 3-0 nine minutes into the second period, the Canes surged to tie, then added four goals in the third. Lindholm’s first goal came on a tip of a Ron Hainsey pass, and the second off a pass from Victor Rask that set up Lindholm for a quick shot.
The third goal was a late empty-netter after the Oilers had pulled goalie Richard Bachman, as Eric Staal picked up his fourth assist of the game. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins also had a hat trick for the Oilers.
Canes goalie Cam Ward has said Lindholm might have the nastiest shot on the team. He said the curve of the blade of Lindholm’s stick allows shots to come off at unpredictable angles.
Lindholm said he never used the stick before coming to the U.S. two years ago. A Swedish friend, Sebastian Wannstrom, in the St. Louis Blues organization, gave Lindholm a stick used by Blues forward T.J. Oshie that had a lot of blade curvature.
“I tried it in practice and the shots felt pretty good,” Lindholm said. “In Sweden I used a pretty standard (stick). The one now is kind of similar, just with more curve and helps me shoot better.”
Lindholm had nine goals in 58 games as a NHL rookie last season and finished with a modest 21 points. He now has 14 goals and 32 points in 63 games, and has an outside shot at hitting the 20-goal mark.
Lindholm, 6-foot-1, said he weighs 202 pounds and feels strong enough on the ice. Looking to next season, he said, he wants to be faster and to improve “all over the ice.”
“I want to be better one-on-one and beat my guy more often,” he said. “That’s a big key.”
NOTE: Peters said defenseman Jack Hillen has a concussion and is sidelined indefinitely. Hillen was acquired in a Feb. 28 trade with the Washington Capitals and has played three games with the Canes.