The Chicago Blackhawks needed a night like Friday’s 8-5 win against the New Jersey Devils.
The Hawks, who realistically have no shot at the playoffs, had plenty of reason to cheer: Patrick Kane and Brandon Hagel had hat tricks, and Hagel celebrated his first.
A team that has been shut out twice this month could use a confidence-boosting eight goals.
The power play, which had missed on its previous six chances, scored on three of four opportunities.
A Hawks team that too often has lacked fight got into two scraps that got the bench and the United Center pumped up.
One of those pugilists, Ryan Carpenter, also scored a critical insurance goal in the third period — 41 seconds after Kirby Dach scored a tiebreaking goal.
“We had some guys step in tonight, huge goal by Carpenter,” Hagel said. “That goal gave us the edge. Without that, who knows where we’d be?”
Kane said called it a “good step.”
“Some young players stepping up too,” Kane said. “When you look at Hagel and Kirby and a depth guy like Carpy coming in and scoring the shift after we make it 5-4 to make it 6-4 and give us some breathing room, it’s good stuff.
“A lot of what’s been going on the last couple of years, you lose games and all of a sudden you start thinking, ‘Is this OK? Is this the way it should be?’ But when you start looking in the mirror and start taking it upon yourself to make something happen every shift and know the moment that’s on the line, when it gets to crunch time, a lot of these young guys are really doing well in that position, so it’s good to see.”
Here are three takeaways from Friday’s game.
1. It was a tale of two hat tricks.
It was the best of times (the hat tricks) within the worst of times (this entire season).
There’s a poetic symmetry to it that carried a sense of history.
Kane, the future Hall of Famer, recorded his eighth career hat trick (10th including the playoffs), and Hagel, who’s just coming into his own this season, notched his first.
“No better way to do it than in my 100th game,” Hagel said. “It felt good. Got that one out of the way, so now I’m going for four.”
The Hawks have had a pair of hatties seven other times.
Feb. 7, 1943: Doug Bentley and Bill Thomas
Feb. 26, 1947: Max Bentley and Doug Bentley
Jan. 31, 1963: Bobby Hull and Stan Mikita
Feb. 18, 1968: Mikita and Kenny Wharram
April 4, 1973 (playoffs): Pit Martin and Dick Redmond
Jan. 1, 1986: Troy Murray and Al Secord
March 9, 2003: Eric Daze and Steve Sullivan
Both Kane’s and Hagel’s hat tricks came on empty-netters 55 seconds apart.
Coach Derek King initially was unaware Hagel got one too.
“I thought maybe they were still throwing hats for Kaner’s hat trick,” King said. “But that’s great. Obviously Kaner’s a big part of our offense. Hages is getting there, but it was nice to see him contribute.”
2. Brandon Hagel won’t forget P.K. Subban’s ‘dirty play’ anytime soon.
Hagel completed his hat trick with 27.8 seconds remaining, but jubilation mixed with fury after Devils defenseman P.K. Subban tripped Hagel on his way to the empty net.
Subban and Hagel were issued roughing penalties, with Subban given an additional two-minute minor for roughing Dach. Subban also was issued a 10-minute misconduct penalty.
“The guy slew foots everyone and gets these dirty fines, dirty play,” Hagel said of Subban. “I don’t care who you are. I have a clear-cut breakaway, what are you going to do? It’s just a dirty play.
“I mean, he can do what he wants, but it’s not going to get you very liked around the league, that’s for sure.”
King had a curious take on Subban after the game but admitted he didn’t have a good view of what transpired.
“I was looking at the monitor to see what all the fuss was,” King said. “But Subban’s always in stuff like that. That’s the kind of player he is, and I like it. You wish you had a guy like that on your team.
“So I didn’t see what happened. But Hages can handle himself. I’m not too worried about Hages.”
As much as King prizes Hagel, and with as many players as King has lost to injury, he probably feels differently if he has seen the replay.
3. Kirby Dach had a great game offensively and defensively.
Dach’s progress receives a lot of skepticism, much of it justified, but there’s no denying he had one of his best games of the season.
His toe-drag goal in the third period broke a 4-4 tie, and he, Philipp Kurashev and Henrik Borgström handled a tough defensive assignment against Jack Hughes’ line with Dawson Mercer and Yegor Sharangovich.
“He’s a hell of a player,” Hagel said of Dach. “Twenty-one years old — I got two years on the kid. Like, this guy is going to be an unbelievable player. He’s learning.”
Hagel next alluded to the skeptics.
“Yeah, he’s a high draft pick, but it takes people time and I think he’s done an unbelievable job over his career so far,” Hagel said. “He’s handled it very well. Obviously there’s a lot of people out there saying stuff about him because he is a third overall pick, but you see the way he acts and the way he is in the dressing room, he keeps learning, he learns every day.”
King said Dach should feel good about his overall performance.
“We’ve talked about it. He’s playing a role, we’ve given him a job, some details of checking top lines,” King said. “Jack Hughes is a pretty good hockey player and that’s a good line.
“(Dach) did a good job tonight and he got rewarded by playing the right way. He was on the right side of the puck, he supported it, it got chipped by, they pinch and that’s the way they play. They take some chances and it was good to see him finish it.”
Here is more game coverage.
Patrick Kane and Brandon Hagel each had hat tricks Friday night, but the Chicago Blackhawks needed to fend off a late New Jersey Devils charge to escape with an 8-5 win, snapping a seven-game United Center losing streak.
It was Kane’s eighth-career regular-season hat trick and Hagel’s first. Alex DeBrincat had three assists.
“That’s nice,” Hagel said about the milestone. “No better way to do it than on my 100th game. It felt good. Got that one out of the way, so now I’m going for four.”
Added Kane: “Pretty cool night. Nice to score some goals, power play was pretty good for us obviously and (we) got some timely goals from (Kirby Dach) and (Ryan Carpenter). Had some big moments.”
According to NHL Stats, it was the first time two Hawks recorded hat tricks in the same game since March 9, 2003, when Eric Daze and Steve Sullivan pulled off the feat. Déjà vu: It also came during an 8-5 win at the United Center, only the opponent was the Boston Bruins.
The Hawks avoided going winless in eight straight home games for the first time since the 2006-07 season, when they went 0-6-2 from Dec. 29, 2006, to Jan. 26, 2007. They hadn’t won at the United Center since Jan. 15, when they blanked the Anaheim Ducks 3-0.
“That was real big,” coach Derek King said. “I think just for the fans.
“I mean, we’re competing, we’re trying and it just wasn’t working, and then it was an exciting game (Friday). Got the fans out of their seats.”
Hagel opened the scoring 7 minutes, 34 seconds into the game with his 15th of the season. Ty Smith turned over the puck in the Devils’ zone on a bad pass to Jack Hughes, then Hagel snagged the puck and wristed a shot past Jon Gillies’ glove.
On the other end, however, the Hawks did little to protect Kevin Lankinen during his first game in net since Jan. 22 in Minnesota, where he took a puck to his right hand.
Lankinen faced 15 shots on goal in the first period Friday — seven of them high-danger chances, according to Natural Stat Trick — and coughed up goals to Jack Hughes and Yegor Sharangovich.
But the Hawks charged back with three straight goals in the second.
Kane scored for the second straight game, roofing a power-play shot for a goal at the 1:34 mark of the period.
Then he struck again on the power play — the Hawks had four chances in the period — and benefited from a little skill and a little luck. Kane threaded a shot through Jonas Siegenthaler’s legs, and it deflected off Damon Severson’s stick over Gillies’ pad to make it 3-2 Hawks at the 11:24 mark.
Two-and-a-half minutes later, again on the power play, Hagel took a pass from Kane and launched a rocket that measured 62 mph on the United Center video board.
But the Devils clawed back with two goals.
The first came on a heads-up play by Severson. He curled around his own net and tossed a beauty of a stretch pass to Jesper Bratt for a breakaway goal with 2:17 left in the second.
Then at 8:36 of the the third, Siegenthaler, who assisted on two earlier goals, scored his first of the season to make it 4-4.
The Hawks regained the lead with a Kirby Dach toe-drag goal, then Carpenter added to it with his second goal his last four games — after going 45 straight without one — to make it 6-4 Hawks with 5:05 left.
The Hawks almost needed it. Bratt added his second goal of the night a minute later.
But Kane and Hagel each added empty-netters to complete their hat tricks.
Hagel got into a scuffle with P.K. Subban after Subban tripped him into the net as Hagel scored — the Devils seemingly took issue with the Hawks padding the lead — but Hagel waved to amp up the crowd as he skated by celebratory hats on the ice.
The Hawks had a lot of young faces in the lineup — some out of necessity. Defensemen Jake McCabe (lower back) and Calvin de Haan (right groin strain) were scratches. Jakub Galvas and Alec Regula replaced them and were the Hawks’ starting pairing. It was Galvas’ sixth game and Regula’s third.
Lukas Reichel played in his third straight game and saw 8½ minutes of action, mostly on a line with Hagel and Dominik Kubalik. In the third period, Reichel was on the doorstep with the puck and tried to tuck it in the far corner but missed wide.
Given the fact Lankinen spent a month on the shelf — as well as coming into the game with an .889 save percentage — his struggles could have been predictable.
He settled down for a stretch in the second but gave up Bratt’s breakaway goal through the five-hole late in the period. Lankinen finished with 31 saves on 36 shots. Gillies had 29.