Blackhawks

Five takeaways from Blackhawks' 10-1 win over Penguins in season opener

Here are five takeaways from the Blackhawks' 10-1 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins in Thursday's season opener:

1. Brandon Saad makes it rain

How's that for a return? Saad announced to Chicago that he's back by netting a hat trick for the second time in the last couple weeks, but this one actually counted.

He scored a pair of first-period goals at even strength, then found the back of the net in the third period to cap it off thanks to a terrific pass by Jonathan Toews, the United Center crowd of 21,705 showering the ice with hats. 

"The puck was finding me tonight," said Saad, who finished with a team-high five shots on goal. "I'll take it."

2. Patrick Kane in MVP form

Who needs Artemi Panarin? Seriously though, Kane put on an absolute clinic in his season debut, tying a career high with a four-point game (one goal and three assists).

His first two assists — a no-look pass and a spin-o-rama — will be on his highlight reel, and so will his goal, where he roofed a ridiculous backhander past Matt Murray, who made a relief appearance after former Blackhawks netminder Antti Niemi allowed four goals on 13 shots in the opening period.

"It's almost like it wasn't a real game," Kane said of the 10-1 rout. "It was amazing."

3. Ryan Hartman, Nick Schmaltz shine ... and Blackhawks dodge a bullet

Schmaltz backed up all the preseason hype that surrounded him by scoring two goals and adding an assist in the win. He backchecked hard, he led the rush and buried his scoring chances. Kane went as far to say after the game that Schmaltz's speed through the middle of the ice reminds him of Connor McDavid.

Staying on the same line, Hartman had himself a career night as well, recording five points (one goal and four assists) in the victory.

That trio of Hartman, Schmaltz and Kane was simply dynamic.

"It was amazing watching the speed, whether it was Schmaltzy going through the middle of the ice, playmaking, patience in the offensive zone, be it off the rush, cross-ice passes, they were doing it all tonight," head coach Joel Quenneville said. "One of those nights where they were outstanding. All complemented one another, all hit open spaces and they all hit those little holes and were extremely dangerous. It was a great start for them."

There was a bit of scare at the end of the third period when Schmaltz left the Blackhawks' bench favoring his leg. Quenneville said after the game that Schmaltz is fine and that he will "likely" play Saturday, along with Tanner Kero, who suffered an injury in the win.

4. Patrick Sharp gets in on the action, too

Oh yeah, it was a nice welcome home for the Sharp Shooter as well. He scored the team's fifth goal to cap off the monstrous first period, which happened to be his 600th career NHL point.

He finished the game with seven shot attempts and logged 19:34 of ice time, which led all Blackhawks forwards.

5. Artem Anisimov's success at the dot

Getting away from all the scoring and looking deeper into the box score, something that flew under the radar was Anisimov's success at the faceoff circle. That was a huge concern for him last season, when he won only 45.1 percent of his draws. 

Consistency is his biggest issue, but he won 15 of 21 faceoffs (71.5 percent) in a third-line role to open the season. Great start.