Anatomy of a Hat Trick: How Gustav Nyquist and Zach Werenski Put Three in the Back of the Net

By Jacob Nitzberg on April 28, 2020 at 8:05 am
Dec 31, 2019; Columbus, Ohio, USA; Hats begin to hit the ice as Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Zach Werenski (8) celebrates his first career hat trick during the third period against the Florida Panthers at Nationwide Arena.
Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports

There have been 39 hat tricks by Blue Jackets players in the 19-year history of the franchise.

Two were added this season; one apiece from Zach Werenski and Gustav Nyquist. Werenski had 20 goals when the NHL season was suspended, which led all defenseman and was one behind Oliver Bjorkstrand for the club lead. Nyquist came into the COVID-19 suspension with 15 goals on the year.

Let's take a look at each of their hat tricks from this season, and what transpired to make them possible. 

On November 29th, the Pittsburgh Penguins came to town for what is always a testy, adrenaline-filled battle. Nyquist scored the Blue Jackets' first, third, and fifth goals of the game in what was a fantastic contest.

Just five minutes in, Nyquist notched his first goal: a perfect example of Nyquist putting himself in a good position and making things happen, as he deflects Bjorkstrand's shot past Penguins netminder Tristan Jarry.

Then, with the Blue Jackets leading 2-1 early in the second period, Nyquist grabbed his second on the power play. Pierre-Luc Dubois drew two defenders along the wall, threw the puck out and found Nyquist, who drove to the net and buried a backhand to give the Blue Jackets a 3-1 lead.

The Penguins put together a push in the third period, but that was promptly shut down when Nyquist notched an empty-netter to put the game to bed with 59 seconds remaining. Josh Anderson cleared the puck out of the Blue Jackets' zone, and Nyquist won a footrace against Kris Letang to negate the icing call. All he had to do after that? Just tap it in.

It was a great night for Nyquist and the Blue Jackets, as they took two points from the Penguins and improved their record to 11-10-4.

Just over a month later, the Blue Jackets had a New Year's Eve date with the Florida Panthers. Old friend Sergei Bobrovsky made his first start against his former club, but Zach Werenski ensured that the Panthers wouldn't leave Columbus with any points.

Just like Nyquist's hat trick, Werenski scored his first goal roughly five minutes into the game. Alexander Wennberg won a faceoff in the offensive zone, and the puck went directly to Werenski. The Blue Jackets' stalwart defenseman wasted no time rifling a slapshot past Bobrovsky.

Then, with just over four minutes gone in the third period, Werenski struck again. David Savard found him in space, and this time he uncorked a wrister that beat Bobrovsky low glove side. The Panthers would challenge the play for goaltender interference, believing Bobrovsky was bumped, but the call on the ice of a goal was confirmed after video review.

Four minutes later, Werenski gave the Blue Jackets a three-goal cushion. Nyquist, Boone Jenner, and Nick Foligno had a fantastic shift in the offensive zone leading up to the goal. Nyquist stole the puck from Mike Matheson behind the net, and then the three connected several passes while cycling the puck. Eventually, a pass from Nyquist deflected off of a Panthers defenseman and fell to Zach Werenski in an area that Werenski rarely misses from.

This game may have been the turning point for the Blue Jackets' season. Elvis Merzlikins defeated Bobrovsky for his first NHL win, and the Blue Jackets went on to go 9-2-0 in their next 11 games after this one, in large part due to the play of Merzlikins and Werenski.

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