Blackhawks' Ryan Hartman steps up when challenged, scores first career NHL goal

Blackhawks' Ryan Hartman steps up when challenged, scores first career NHL goal

When Andrew Shaw got traded to the Montreal Canadiens over the offseason, all eyes shifted to Ryan Hartman as the favorite to replace the scrappy forward who made a living in front of the net and getting under opponent's skin.

Perhaps part of the reason he was viewed as a strong candidate for that role was when Hartman introduced himself to the National Hockey League in February of 2015 seconds into his first shift by laying a huge hit on New Jersey Devils forward Daniel Zubrus, showing the Blackhawks the type of edge he brings.

In Wednesday's season opener though, Hartman made an impact on the scoresheet on a bizarre sequence.

In a 1-1 tie towards the latter stages of the second period, Hartman's stick was knocked out of his hands in the neutral zone and slid towards the blue line, where rookie Tyler Motte was carrying the puck into St. Louis Blues territory before tripping over it. 

Hartman quickly skated to it and picked it back up, kept the puck in the zone immediately after on an errant pass by Robert Bortuzzo, fired a half-slapper on net that missed by a few inches, then skated to the blue paint where Motte somehow fed him a pass and Hartman's ensuing shot snuck past Blues goaltender Jake Allen's five-hole for his first career NHL goal and Motte's first career point.

"It's a really good feeling," Hartman said following a 5-2 loss in front of 21,729 fans at the United Center, a handful of which were his family members. "It's something you dream about your whole life. Obviously you wish you got a win out of it, kind of takes away from it a little bit, but I'm pretty excited to get that out of the way and moving forward hopefully get some more here."

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

It was the second consecutive season a Blackhawks player scored his first career NHL goal in the season opener with Artemi Panarin doing the same against the New York Rangers last October.

It couldn't have come at a better time for the Blackhawks, who had recorded only three shots on goal in the period. 

"It certainly put us in a great spot," Joel Quenneville said. "We weren't going very well at that moment. It was a funny shift and we ended up getting a break and scoring so it was a momentum-changer for us. Those guys have done some good things for us throughout camp and we feel these guys need to play and get better as we go along here."

It also came shortly after Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews challenged his line on the bench to get things going after a dull period.

"I told Hartzy to go get a big shift there and he responded," Toews said. "It was good to see that, those two guys respond."

Hartman, who had one assist in eight career games entering the 2016-17 season, was one of six rookies in the Blackhawks' lineup, and is among them trying to earn more ice time.

He recorded just over eight and a half minutes in his season debut, but making the most of it is how you get rewarded with more and earn the trust of the coaching staff, and he did just that on Wednesday.

"You usually don't really think about it too much, but yeah it gets it out of the way and makes it one less thing to worry about I guess," Hartman said. "Now it's just hockey and go out there and play."

Blackhawks edge out Senators in shootout: 'It was really nice to get a win'

Blackhawks edge out Senators in shootout: 'It was really nice to get a win'

It was a rare sight to see the Blackhawks in a shootout on Wednesday night.

It was just the second time this season — and first time at the United Center — that the Blackhawks made it past 3-on-3 overtime. 

The last came on Dec. 2, 2017, a 3-2 shootout loss to the Stars in Dallas. On Wednesday night, the Blackhawks were on the other end, beating the Ottawa Senators 3-2 in a seven-round shootout. Nick Schmaltz netted the game-winner.

"We'll take it," coach Joel Quenneville said. "I thought we had a decent game tonight. Overtime not so good, I liked the shootout victory, Fors made some big saves for us particularly as the game got deeper. Our third was OK, I thought our first two were way better, and overtime we gave up some high quality, some bells were rings for a bit there. But it was nice to see the shootout win."

Patrick Kane had a goal and an assist, recording another multi-point game, his 16th of the season.

"I mean we need every point we can get at this point," Kane said. "There's still belief in this locker room. Obviously we need to go on quite a run and have a big record here down the stretch. But take it a game at a time and nice to get two points."

Anton Forsberg was a big reason the Blackhawks even recorded those two points. The 25-year-old netminder stopped 34 of 36 shots and made a handful of big saves down the stretch.

"It was really nice to get a win for sure," Forsberg said. "I would love to have a lot more wins, but right now just gotta look forward and get as many wins as possible."

Added Quenneville: "I think it was good for him to win a game the way he did. Lot of shots were on the line, as we progressed, got deeper, hitting the point first was big for him and for us and then finding a way to get the extra one was a good win."

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks collide with Senators

NBC Sports Chicago

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks collide with Senators

Here are Three Things to Watch when the Blackhawks take on the Ottawa Senators tonight on NBC Sports Chicago and streaming live on the NBC Sports app. Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live.

1. Trade chips.

The Blackhawks have reached the point in their season where they have no choice but to become sellers before the Feb. 26 deadline, and we saw that when they traded Michal Kempny to the Washington Capitals on Monday for a conditional third-round pick in 2018. Tommy Wingels could also be an attractive piece for a team looking to fill out their depth.

The Senators will definitely be sellers, and wow do they have some names potentially on the market that can fetch large returns: Derrick Brassard and Mike Hoffman are two players who log top-six minutes on a nightly basis and also have term left on their contract, which is great for teams looking to load up for this year and beyond.

The biggest name to watch, probably in the league altogether, is Erik Karlsson, who could be on the move if a team offers a big enough package for the Senators to pull the trigger now as opposed to in the offseason if they feel him re-signing is a long shot. He was the best defenseman last season, and if a team steps up to get him, they're getting two possible postseason runs out of him.

2. Artem Anisimov's experiment at left wing not working.

Joel Quenneville has tried rekindling the magic between Anisimov, Nick Schmaltz and Patrick Kane as of late, only this time Anisimov is playing the wing and it just hasn't been very effective. The trio was on the ice for each of the two 5-on-5 goals the Kings scored on Monday, and Anisimov completely lost his man on the first one.

It's important to establish a consistent left winger for Schmaltz and Kane, and maybe putting Alex DeBrincat up there is something you consider going forward as part of a long-term solution. Move Anisimov back down as the third-line center to play in more of a defensive role and continue using his big body on power plays for his offensive abilities might be the best bet.

3. Win the special teams battle.

In their last meeting against Ottawa on Jan. 9, the Blackhawks went 4-for-6 on the power play and 4-on-4 on the penalty kill in an 8-2 win. And those are two areas to look out for again.

The Senators own the 28th-ranked power play with a 16.1 percent success rate and 29th-ranked penalty kill with a 74.5 percent success rate. Get ready for another offensive outburst?