Almost every part of Brandon Hagel’s play this year has blown away expectations. He could easily be one of the NHL’s rookie scoring leaders — if not for his finishing struggles.
But on Monday, he ripped the best shot of his Blackhawks tenure to date at the biggest moment.
Hagel’s overtime winner, which flew past goalie Joonas Korpisalo’s glove as he slid left to right, gave the Hawks a 4-3 win and a series sweep of the Blue Jackets.
“[To] finally get a shooting goal…it’s nice to get it out of the way,” Hagel said. “I know I can score in this league. So [I want to] just build off stuff like that.”
Monday’s win culminated a chaotic deadline day in which the organization executed four trades, creating an emotional environment for the coaching staff and players.
“You’re talking about lives and friendships,” coach Jeremy Colliton said. “Those are the guys you go to war with, and then all of a sudden, they’re not there. It’s a tough day. And it’s tough to play a game on that day. Our guys did a really good job of understanding that, while it’s hard, [we needed to] find a way to…win important points.”
It proved to be a chaotic game, too.
On defense, Adam Boqvist left in the first period after taking a puck to the face and did not return due to concussion symptoms — a massive blow for Boqvist and the Hawks moving forward.
Nikita Zadorov was healthy scratched in favor of Riley Stillman, who made his Hawks debut. And Calvin de Haan played despite leaving Saturday’s game with a hip pointer, then tweaked his injury again midgame and “struggled with his mobility” the rest of the night.
“He gutted it out,” Colliton said. “He was in a tough spot and we needed those minutes.”
On the forward end, Brett Connolly also made his Hawks debut and scored a crucial third-period goal that briefly gave his new team the lead.
The Hawks rallied from 1-0 and 2-1 deficits via Duncan Keith and Phillipp Kurashev tallies, then saw their own 3-2 advantage equalized by a Patrik Laine wondergoal before finally prevailing in overtime.