The Blackhawks wrapped their four-game trip with a loss to the Flames on Tuesday night in a game that was tied until the final five minutes before the home team netted a goal and a pair of empty netters for a 5-2 final.
"I think they're disappointed and they probably a good thing," interim head coach Derek King said after the game. "OK first (period). Second period, I thought we played a solid second period, we did all the little things right, we played a certain way that this team needs to play and then the third period, we just kind of got away from it again.
"The consistency of playing a certain way is not there yet. It's getting there. I know these guys. Going in there after the game, you look at them and they were disappointed. Which, I guess as the season has gone so far, I think that's a positive that they are upset about it."
Just under 100 miles from where he played junior hockey in Red Deer, Reese Johnson likely will never forget Tuesday's game in Calgary. Tthe winger notched his first NHL point in the first period with an assist on Hagel's tally and then popped his first NHL goal in the second with a forechecking-led tally past Jacob Markstrom.
"It's nice to contribute and I want to do that more, get some greasy ones in front of the net," he said. "Anytime you can get on the forecheck and make the goalie bobble the puck a bit, it's good. Just lucky it went in."
"Good for him," said King. "He works so hard. I've got a lot of time for Reeser, obviously having him in Rockford there. It's just great to see a kid that works that hard get rewarded. It's too bad we didn't get it into overtime and get a point or two points for him. On a positive, good for him."
To make the night even more special, a contingent of family and friends boasting Johnson No. 52 Blackhawks jerseys that made the equidistant trip north to Edmonton for Saturday's contest also traveled south to the Saddledome on Tuesday to see Johnson's game of firsts.
"It's always nice having family and friends come out and support you," Johnson said of the special night. "They've helped me a lot along the way. It's really nice (to have them here), for sure."
"He's such a great guy, great teammate and it's always exciting to see a guy get his first like that," captain Jonathan Toews said. "It's got to feel good and he's doing a lot for our team and hopefully they can keep going in for him."
The Blackhawks wrapped their longest singular road trip of the season -- both in terms of days (8) and games (4) -- on Tuesday night, finishing with a 2-1-0 record on the week-plus excursion across the Pacific Northwest and Western Canada.
For a team that was winless on the road this year before the trip (0-5-1), it was an overall successful trip despite perhaps the sour finish dropping a tie game in the final five minutes.
"It is," King said when asked if it was still a positive trip. "You get .500 on the road, coming in to where we started from, they've made strides. Is there some more work to be done? Sure is. We are making good strides and we are in the right direction."
"Either way, we played some good hockey," Toews said. "We want to win all four, so 2-2 or 3-1, either we I think there's some hockey we can build off of going home here."
After largely splitting the netminding duties in the season's opening month, Marc-Andre Fleury started for the ninth time over the last 11 games on Tuesday night, including three of the four on the road trip. Since his first start under Derek King on Nov. 9, the veteran is tied for the second most wins in the NHL (4), while his .955 save percentage and 1.58 GAA are second among goalies with five or more starts.
"I think he feels when our team really needs that and it's like he gets activated, he gets into it," Toews said. "I feel like when he starts seeing pucks and we start giving him too many chances, he gets better and better. He backs us up when we're not so good in front of him. We don't want to have to rely on him to do that every single night. We've got to help him. He's getting better and better every game it seems."
The future Hall of Famer is three wins away from becoming the third goaltender all-time to reach the 500 win mark. Fleury would join Martin Brodeur (691) and his childhood idol Patrick Roy (551) as the only ones to reach the milestone.
Hagel's first-period tally was his sixth of the season and third in his last four games, including back-to-back outings after scoring the lone goal in Sunday's win over Vancouver. It's the second time in his young career to notch goals in back-to-back games (March 13 and 15, 2021 at Florida).
The winger is tied with Patrick Kane for second on the team in scoring behind Alex DeBrincat (11) and is already two-thirds of the way to his total from a year ago (9 in 52 games) in just 16 outings.
Of Hagel's six goals this season, four have been the first goal in a game, tied for the NHL lead in the category (Dylan Larkin, DET). If not for Dillon Dube's tally 79 seconds in, the second-year forward could've notched his fifth game-opening goal on the year.