Hagel’s hat trick keys Bolts’ comeback

by Gary Shelton on March 19, 2023

in general

Hagel had a hat trick for Bolts./TIM WIRT

Sunday, 4 a.m.

He is perpetually in motion, a skittering, darting superbug of a player. He is here, and then he is there, and sometimes, he is on his way somewhere else.

He is Brandon Hagel. Keep up with him if you can.

Hagel, the blue blur, scored his second career hat trick Saturday night, leading the Tampa Bay Lightning to a 5-3 comeback victory over the Montreal Candies.

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Stamkos tied the game at 3./TIM WIRT

Hagel, acquired one year ago from Chicago, wasn't this player a year ago. He scored just four of his 25 goals in 22 games for Tampa Bay last season.

But look at him now. Hagel has a career-high 27 goals. He scored from a sharp angle on a puck that bounded off the wall. He scored on a deflection of a Mikhail Sergachev shot. He scored an empty netter by stealing the puck, moving through traffic and snapping it home to close the lid on the game.

On Hall of Fame weekend, Hagel looked like a Hall of Famer. He got off seven shots, and once again was the pesky pain in the keister to the Bolts' opponents.

"What’s great about Hags is that you can put him anywhere," said Lightning coach Jon Cooper. "He’s like a Swiss Army Knife. You can put him on different lines and he blossoms in different roles. You have to play at a high level to have a success with Brayden Point and Nikita Kucherov. He’s kind of showing all sides of how versatile he is."

The Bolts were sluggish with their puck management in the second period, and they trailed 3-2 going into the third. For the sixth time this season, however, they rallied to win.

The Bolts also got goals from Steven Stamkos, his 30th, and Victor Hedman, his seventh. Brian Elliott won his 11th game in goal.

The Bolts are back at Amalie Arena tonight against the Jersey Devils at 7 p.m.

Hedman scored his seventh goal./TIM WIRT

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