Where do we begin?
How about Ryan Hartman at 6:21.
Brandon Saad was welcomed back 45 seconds later with his first of the year.
Nick Schmaltz got on the board 27 seconds later and it was 3-1 Hawks.
So far, Antti Niemi was the only guy not enjoying the Chicago homecoming. And it got worse.
Saad scored his second of the game 1:42 after the Schmaltz goal.
And that was the end of the night for Niemi, who allowed four goals against 13 shots in 9:16. Matt Murray came in to stop the bleeding for Pittsburgh.
At 17:01, Patrick Sharp showed that his legs are healthy.
In the first period, the Chicago Blackhawks put five goals on the board from three different lines. Seven players had an assist in the opening 20 minutes, including three defensemen (Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook and Michal Kempny).
Pittsburgh got a two-man advantage early in the second period and took advantage. Phil Kessel scored to cut the lead to 5-1.
Kane wasn’t having it, though. Only 1:44 after the Kessel goal, Kane scored a goal that an incredibly small number of people on the planet could even attempt.
Ryan Hartman picked up his second assist of the night on Kane’s goal as the Hawks’ second line of Hartman-Schmaltz-Kane established their dominance.
Schmaltz and Gustav Forsling picked up assists on Richard Panik’s first of the year at 9:18.
Jan Rutta became the fifth Hawks defenseman to pick up an assist in the game on the Panik marker, and the blitz continued.
Schmaltz scored his second of the game less than two minutes after the Panik goal to extend the lead to 8-1.
At the end of two period, Hartman, Kane and Schmaltz all had three points and all three were plus-four. The only defenseman without an assist through 40 minutes of hockey was poor Connor Murphy. Jonathan Toews didn’t have a point but was plus-three. His linemates had two points each (two goals for Saad, one goal and one assist for Panik).
Between the pipes, Corey Crawford was quietly outstanding. He stopped 20 of 21 through two periods. Chicago’s new-look blue line did a good job of limiting traffic in front of him and he made a few great saves to keep Pittsburgh from making things interesting.
Alex DeBrincat, who made the NHL roster because of his… physicality… had three hits in the first two periods, including a huge hit on Ian Cole.
— Cristiano Simonetta (@CMS_74_) October 6, 2017
The only negative for the Blackhawks was Tanner Kero getting banged up. He did not return for the third period after skating 7:35 in the first couple periods.
Saad completed the hat trick 5:21 into the third and the Blackhawks established a new record for goals on Opening Night. And Toews became the last of the Hawks’ top nine forwards to put a point on the board.
Seven minutes into the third Schmaltz got tangled up with a couple Penguins and limped off the ice. He was favoring his right knee and got assistance going to the room.
After Ryan Reaves – an all-time pudwhack – tried to pick a fight with John Hayden and then crosschecked him behind a play, the Hawks decided nine was not enough. Seabrook took care of making it ten.
For Seabrook it was his third point of the night. Hartman and Kane picked up their fourth assists each on the marker.
And Murray had allowed six goals in relief of Niemi.
Reaves continued to be a dipshit and got the showers with 2:10 left in regulation. The Hawks gladly wasted a powerplay to run the clock and complete a nine-goal beatdown of the defending champions.
Crawford stopped 28 of 29 in the game. Sidney Crosby was minus-four.