Hayden Panettiere Swarmed by Photogs ... Hot Guy Friend Saves the Day!!!

8/3/2018 7:01 AM PDT

Hayden Panettiere Swarmed by Photogs, Guy Friend Comes to Her Rescue

Hayden Panettiere took a heated, sticky situation and turned it into a dancing, happy one within a matter of minutes -- but, she got a helping hand from her knight in shining ... ball cap.

We got Hayden on her way out of Craig's in WeHo Thursday night, and she drew a lot of attention. Fact is, HP doesn't do the Hollywood scene that much anymore -- hence the frenzy to get a shot -- but she definitely wasn't feeling it.

She tried to shove her way past one pap, but got tangled in a cable and got really pissed. That's when Captain Hat To The Back swooped. We don't know who he is, but he escorted Hayden from the fray, calmed her down ... then helped her make a smiling, even graceful exit.

No sign of her actual knight -- fiance Wladimir Klitschko -- but obviously this dude in the Braves cap will do in a pinch.