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Watch: James Neal's Hat Trick

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He's kind of a big deal.

Don McPeak-USA TODAY Sports

Since the trade, James Neal has had a weight on his shoulders to score goals. It's something Predators fans haven't seen one player do consistently for... well, ever. When his first few games didn't go the way people expected them to, many pundits in the media snarked about how he wasn't going to cut it without Evgeni Malkin.

All those pundits can shut up now.

Early in the third period against the Chicago Blackhawks, Neal recorded his third goal of the night for his first hat trick in Nashville. Here's hoping many, many more follow. Relive them with us:

The first goal came from an awesome pass from none other than Seth "Freedom" Jones. Neal beat Antti Raanta like it was no big thing.

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The second came as a result of some fantastic work by Prince Filip Forsberg. Pestering the Blackhawks, he forced Brandon Saad to make an awesome pass to Neal. Thanks, Brandon!

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Finally, the moment you've all been waiting for. A shot by Ryan Ellis bounced right to Neal, and he didn't hesitate to bury an easy goal. Throw the hats!

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And, just in case you forgot what it looked like when hats were thrown to the ice.

hats

Thank you, James!