The way he's going now, Jeff Hamilton might be the guy you want to sit next to you at the blackjack table.
"Good luck follows you around when you're scoring goals," Hamilton said.
Hamilton recorded his first NHL hat trick Saturday night as the Blackhawks made it three in a row for new head coach Denis Savard with a come-from-behind 4-3 overtime victory over the Nashville Predators. The Hawks have beaten Nashville three straight.
The hat trick was the first for the Hawks since March 19, 2004, when Tyler Arnason did it against Vancouver. It was the first on the road since Arnasonand wouldn't that win someone a little money in a bet?scored three against San Jose on Dec. 28, 2002.
After going 17 games without a goal, Hamilton now has four in the last two games.
He scored Friday night against St. Louis just before the whistle stopped play as goaltender Curtis Sanford was writhing in pain after injuring his groin.
Then 30 seconds into Saturday night's contest, Hamilton threw the puck from almost the goal line and watched it inch past Nashville goaltender Chris Mason.
"That first goal tonight, it's no secret, it was a garbage goal," Hamilton said.
With the Hawks trailing 3-2, Hamilton forced overtime with his second goal of the night with 34 seconds left after the Hawks had pulled Nikolai Khabibulin for an extra attacker. The winner came 59 seconds into overtime.
Normally when there is a coaching change, a team's play spikes for a period of time. But the spike for Hamilton and Tony Salmelainen, who added his third goal in as many games, has been close to remarkable.
The two were among the main reasons general manager Dale Tallon removed Trent Yawney as coach, believing Yawney wasn't giving either the ice time or the linemates they needed to succeed.
Hamilton won't pin all his earlier struggles on Yawney.
"The last two or three games on the [recent] road trip, I was playing well, I was getting a lot of ice time, playing 14, 15 minutes," he said. "It just wasn't coming."
Savard has put Hamilton and Salmelainen together with center Patrick Sharp, and the three have been the Hawks' best line the last two games.
"They are earning their ice time, and they deserve it," Savard said. "That line again dominated."
Hamilton started the season with two goals in his first three games and was rewarded with extra ice time. Gradually, the ice time diminished, and he was scratched twice.
"I got the chance early and then we started struggling as a team," Hamilton said. "Credit Yawney for the defense that we've been playing lately. We had to play that defense initially when [Martin] Havlat and [Michal] Handzus got hurt."
Saturday's start was the first time this season Khabibulin had played on consecutive nights. He did it four times last year without a win. Saturday he held the Hawks in the game early, making three point-blank saves among his 25. Defenseman Lasse Kukkonen didn't make the trip. He was with his wife, who had their first child Saturday. Piritta Kukkonen gave birth to a girl, Vilma Sofia. The Hawks recalled Danny Richmond from Norfolk to take Kukkonen's spot. Karl Stewart, suffering from the flu, arrived Saturday on a commercial flight. Stewart was scratched for the second straight game. Defenseman Brent Seabrook had his first NHL fight Saturday, taking on Nashville's Jordin Tootoo early in the first period. He had his second NHL fight late in the second period, taking on Dan Hamhuis after Hamhuis took out Tuomo Ruutu with an open-ice hit. Captain Adrian Aucoin, out with a groin injury, has no timetable for his return.