Here are five takeaways from the Blackhawks' 5-1 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday night:
1. Brandon Saad stays hot.
We're not sure you could've scripted a better start for Saad in his second go-around with the Blackhawks. Fresh off a hat trick on Opening Night, the 24-year-old winger found himself on the scoresheet again — and early — when he potted Chicago's second goal (on the power play) against his former club 6:04 into the first period.
He also added an assist, and finished with seven shot attempts (five on goal) in the victory.
"His quickness is the thing that's been very noticeable," Joel Quenneville said of Saad. "Quick to pucks, quick to beating the guy to the net. That line was excellent again tonight."
2. Nick Schmaltz injured again, and it'll sideline him this time.
For the second straight game, the Blackhawks lost their second-line center to an upper-body injury. Only this time, it will force him to miss some action. Just 1:33 into the game, Schmaltz got sandwiched in between two defenders charging hard to the net while Patrick Kane was receiving a pass that he eventually scored on.
Schmaltz stayed down for a little bit, then needed help from trainers to get off the ice. He did not return, despite coming back on the bench briefly later in the period, before heading back to the dressing room for good.
Quenneville said after the game that Schmaltz will "probably" not go on the team's upcoming road trip in Toronto and Montreal: "We're thinking maybe Thursday" for a potential return.
3. Jonathan Toews is on the board.
Just about everyone scored in the Blackhawks' season-opening 10-1 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins, except The Captain. That changed in Game No. 2, when Toews buried home his only shot of the game from new/old linemate Saad for his first goal of the season.
Toews also tallied an assist, and won an offensive zone draw that immediately led to a Richard Panik goal to get all three players from that line a tally.
Toews hasn't been shy about his intention to re-establish himself as an elite center, both on defense and offense, but especially the latter. If his line can continue playing the way it has been early on, his offensive numbers will start to come on a consistent basis.
4. Patrick Kane, Artemi Panarin just fine without each other (sort of).
Remember how some were wondering how these two would survive without each other? Well, they're doing just fine.
Kane added a goal and an assist in his second game, increasing his point total to six, while Panarin set a Blue Jackets record by recording three points in his team debut Friday night.
Panarin didn't get on the scoresheet against his former team, but his line had solid even-strength possession numbers — although he was on the ice for two of the Blackhawks' goals.
Do they miss playing with each other and toying with opponents? Sure. But they're both superstars in their own right, and don't need each other to prove just how great they are individually.
But they hit the city of Chicago right in the feels after Panarin shared the exchange — through an interpreter — he had with Kane at center ice during pregame warmups: "Patrick came by and said, 'Hey, I miss you' and I said 'I miss you too' and off we went. And then we lost 5-1."
5. Jan Rutta rewarded with first career NHL goal.
An underrated part of the Blackhawks' success in their first two games this season has been their defense. In 120 minutes, they haven't had any glaring defensive lapses or spent a lot of time in their own end.
Rutta, a 27-year-old rookie, is blending right in. He's registered a point in consecutive games to kick off his NHL career, and was rewarded with his first goal Saturday after pinching in to receive a nice backhand pass by Kane before wristing it past Blue Jackets goaltender Joonas Korpisalo.
Rutta also owns a plus-7 rating, which may not be a great stat but at least it indicates good things are happening when he's on the ice.
"Every game I’ve seen him play I’ve been impressed with him," Quenneville said. "It was a special pass that he received from Kaner on the play, nice finish but he does a lot of good things. His anticipation, his reach, his gap, his thinking are all high end. Looks like he’s been around here the way he plays the game. He gives us some experience back there the way he handles his own game."