Carl Hagelin's hat trick pushes Henrik Lundqvist to tie Rangers' career wins record
Carl Hagelin was styling a black fedora in the New York Rangers dressing room Friday night, rather fitting for a guy who notched the first hat trick of his NHL career.
The speedy left winger scored in every period, boosting his season goal total to 16, as the Rangers knocked off the struggling Winnipeg Jets 4-2 to snap a two-game losing skid.
The Rangers (36-28-4) vaulted ahead of the idle Columbus Blue Jackets and into second place in the NHL's Metropolitan Division, while the Jets (30-29-9) have now gone six gameswithout a victory.
Hagelin, 25, who was born and raised in Sweden but played college hockey at the University of Michigan, admitted he hadn't fired a hat trick since he was a teen playing in his homeland.
"It feels good. I've never had one before, not even in college," Hagelin said. "Any time you can help the team win a game, especially scoring three goals, it's pretty special."
To mark the occasion, Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist flopped the fedora on Hagelin's head just as the press corps surrounded him.
"We give out the hat after every win, so Hank (Lundqvist) gave me the hat and said, 'Three goals, you deserve it,'" he said.
Lundqvist stopped 30 shots and tied the team mark of 301 wins with the Rangers, set by Stanley Cup-winner Mike Richter
Hagelin notched his second goal of the contest at 19:52 of the middle frame to break a 2-2 tie, taking a pass from veteran right winger Martin St. Louis and backhanding a shot past goalie Al Montoya.
St. Louis, the Rangers' prized pickup just before the NHL trade deadline, took an ill-advised hooking penalty at 17:41, but his club managed to kill it off. He streaked out of the box to beat out an icing call, grabbed the puck and fed Hagelin for his second goal of the game with just eight seconds left in the period.
"That was a timely kill," St. Louis said. "I come out of the box, negate the icing, shoulder check and I think Hags was tired but he extended himself because he felt like it would probably be a scoring chance. It was fortunate it was on his tape and he finished it off."
Montoya had replaced Winnipeg goalie Ondrej Pavelec to start the second period. Pavelec wasn't even on the bench, and the Jets later said he suffered a lower-body injury.
Hagelin scored the insurance goal midway through the final period, taking a pretty pass from center Brad Richards and rifling a shot through Montoya's legs.
Rookie left winger Chris Kreider ripped his 17th goal of the season in the first period for New York.
Defenseman Dustin Byfuglien and left winger Andrew Ladd scored first-period goals for the Jets. The big defenseman-turned-left winger batted in his 17th tally, while Ladd, the Jets captain, beat Lundqvist on a wrist shot that likely should have been stopped for his 19th goal.
Lundqvist wasn't sharp in the opening period but shut down the Jets in the second and third. He got his 25th victory of the season.
"There was a lot of action (in the first period)," Lundqvist said. "They were throwing a lot of pucks from the side and creating a lot of rebounds. They have a couple of big guys that are good at getting to rebounds. I had to be a little more aggressive than the way I started the game. I had to be a little more on my toes.
"It was a mindset. After that second goal, you feel upset and you try to just push yourself to be a little bit better. And I'm happy the way I responded and the way the team responded. It's a huge win for us. We needed the points big time."
Montoya and Pavelec combined to make 19 saves for Winnipeg.
After the game, Jets head coach Paul Maurice couldn't provide an update on the health of either Pavelec or right-winger Chris Thorburn, who was hurt when he was smacked by a shot early in the second period.
Maurice said Hagelin's late goal in the second period was a defining moment.
"That's a tough goal," Maurice said, adding later, "Clearly, the 3-2 goal changed how we moved the puck and how we moved some things around. It was tough."
On Sunday, the Jets host the Dallas Stars -- the club they trail by six points for the final wild-card spot in the Western Conference.
Winnipeg has only earned three of a possible 12 points since March 1, and has a stretch of very tough games ahead.
"It's a frustrating run," Maurice said. "There's no question the mountain that we've got. I believe the winning percentage (of teams they play) would be the most difficult of schedules in the league. We know what we're facing now."
New York heads home to play the San Jose Sharks on Sunday.