Brandon Hagel’s first NHL goal was one of dozens of notable plays in the Blackhawks’ wild 6-5 shootout victory Tuesday against the Blue Jackets.
But in terms of emotional impact, nothing else came close.
“There are no words to describe this,” Hagel said, beaming wide. “I’ve dreamt of this my whole life. [There’s] no better feeling than getting a pass from a legend, as well.”
Patrick Kane, who continued his torrid start to the season with four points, found Hagel free with the net gaping open after a scramble seconds earlier.
When Hagel ripped the puck into the twine — “He shot it . . . like he wanted to put it through the net,” Kane said later — the three-time Stanley Cup champion celebrated like he’d just won a fourth.
Hagel simply pointed back at Kane, thankful to finally throw the weight of 17 excellent games without a goal off his back.
“If I had missed that one, I don’t know what I would’ve done,” Hagel said. “Maybe played without my stick.”
The goal gave the Hawks a 3-2 lead, but leads proved impossible to hold.
The Hawks held three of them — 2-0, 3-2 and 5-3 — and blew all three, conceding the tying goal to Oliver Bjorkstrand with four minutes left.
Goaltender Kevin Lankinen, uncharacteristically leaky throughout regulation, nonetheless saved the Hawks’ lives repeatedly during an exhausting overtime session before Alex DeBrincat scored the lone shootout goal.
Outside of Hagel’s goal, Kane was anything but pleased after the victory because of the Hawks’ squandered leads.
It has become a recurring trend: The Red Wings rallied back from 2-0 down to force overtime last week, and these same Jackets overcame a 4-2 deficit to win 6-5 during the teams’ previous series.
“[It’s] nice to get two points, but it would’ve been nice to give them nothing,” Kane said. “We have to learn in those situations to close it out. We can all be better winning battles, getting the puck out, making sure they’re not getting any free chances.”
The Hawks can appreciate three things: They remained in a playoff spot while improving to 8-2-1 in their last 11 games, defenseman Connor Murphy officially returned from his hip injury and the first period was, in coach Jeremy Colliton’s words, “one of our better periods all year.”
The Hawks ruthlessly hounded the puck in the first period, finishing it with a 17-5 shots-on-goal advantage.
“We did a lot of the things that we talked about that we wanted to do: pressure and cause turnovers, [offensive zone] time, transition chances,” Colliton said.
“It was just the start we wanted.”
The NHL announced four changes to the Hawks’ schedule.
The game at the Hurricanes that was postponed Saturday will be played May 6 as part of a three-game road series — the Hawks already were set to play in Carolina on May 3 and 4.
The Hawks’ season-ending home series against the Stars — originally set for May 6 and 8 — was moved to May 9 and 10, extending the regular season by two days.
And a road game against the Predators was moved from April 4 to April 19.
Reverse Retro dates
The Hawks will wear their recently unveiled Reverse Retro throwback sweaters three times this season. They’ll debut Sunday against the Red Wings and return March 28 against the Predators and April 8 against the Stars.