Brian Boyle's timing was perfect for the New Jersey Devils when he had one of the best games of his 12-year NHL career, scoring three goals in the Devils' 5-1 win against the Pittsburgh Penguins at PPG Paints Arena on Monday.
But the big story was not the 33-year-old forward getting his first NHL hat trick in his 705th game.
Boyle's big game came on Hockey Fights Cancer Awareness Night in Pittsburgh as part of the 20th annual Hockey Fights Cancer initiative that began Nov. 1. Boyle was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia on Sept. 19, 2017; he told NHL.com on Oct. 24 that his cancer was in remission. He was originally told by doctors that it could take up to 18 months before the disease went into full remission; it actually took 12 months and 33 days.
[RELATED: Boyle gets natural hat trick, Devils defeat Penguins]
During one special night in Pittsburgh, Boyle made another major statement and delivered messages of hope, faith and perseverance.
"I love these nights. I really do," Boyle said after the game. "Sometimes you feel kind of alone. It can be a dark place at times during a cancer fight. ... I remember fighting it a little bit and I'm not feeling great. The worst part of it was people feel sorry for you. They don't know what to say. You want them to feel comfortable around you.
"I think it's important just to reach out and ask questions if you need the help. I think people generally do a pretty good job of uplifting people. I was fortunate enough to be uplifted by all the people in here, my family. It [stinks], but I think there are enough good people in the world to kind of lift you up out of it."
Boyle gave the Devils a big lift, helping them end a three-game losing streak. He scored more than one goal in a game for the first time since Dec. 12, 2017, when he had three points (two goals, one assist) against the Dallas Stars. Boyle is the 23rd player in NHL history to get his first hat trick after skating in at least 700 NHL games.
"That was a lot of fun. That was fun for us," Boyle said. "It was good for us. ... Tonight, to bury a couple was nice."
Video: Enterprise Hat Trick: Boyle nets three on HFC night
Boyle has seven points (six goals, one assist) in 12 games this season. He returned Nov. 1, 2017, missing 10 games following the cancer diagnosis during a training camp physical, and had 23 points (13 goals, 10 assists) in 69 games. He also represented the Devils at the 2018 NHL All-Star Game and was awarded the 2018 Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy for his perseverance and dedication to hockey.
While the Devils (6-5-1) continue a seven-game road trip with a game against the Ottawa Senators at Canadian Tire Centre on Tuesday (7:30 p.m. ET; RDS2, TSN5, MSG+, NHL.TV), Boyle's battle against cancer is ongoing. He takes medication once a month and visits his doctors for regular checkups to make certain the cancer remains in remission. His wife, Lauren, was named official Hockey Fights Cancer ambassador Nov. 1; it's the same role Nicholle Anderson, wife of Senators goalie Craig Anderson, served last season.
Along the way, Boyle will continue to inspire many and touch the lives of those around him.
"That guy, what he's been through, it's going to carry with him throughout his career and his life," Devils defenseman Will Butcher said. "But for a guy like me, a younger guy being a part of it, I'm going to remember it too."