After putting up ten against Pittsburgh in the home opener, the Blackhawks had a lot to live up to in their second home game on Saturday night.
While double digits wasn’t in the cards, Chicago stayed hot offensively and put away the Blue Jackets in Artemi Panarin’s return to the United Center.
Patrick Kane got the party started on his first shift of the night, taking a pass from Ryan Hartman and depositing his second of the season just 93 seconds into the game.
Unfortunately, Nick Schmaltz got caught up in traffic as the pass crossed the ice and went down favoring his leg. He left the ice and went to the room immediately. He would return for only one brief shift but left again and did not return.
On the power play, Brandon Saad found a loose puck on the doorstep and put him his fourth of the season.
And six minutes into the game, Chicago had a two-goal lead. Jonathan Toews and Patrick Sharp picked up the helpers on the Saad goal.
It took more than ten minutes for either team to light the lamp in the second period, but this time it was Toews scoring his first of the year.
Saad returned the favor, picking up the lone assist on the Toews goal to give each of them a multi-point night.
Sonny Milano ended the shutout bid for Corey Crawford 31 seconds after the Toews goal to cut the lead to 3-1, but Chicago wasn’t done.
Jan Rutta scored his first career NHL goal at 12:51 to extend the lead back to three. Kane added his fourth assist of the season.
Rutta and Gustav Forsling were each plus-three through two periods to lead the Blackhawks.
At 14:05 into the third, Richard Panik picked up a loose puck off an offensive zone faceoff and scored his second of the season to give Chicago a 5-1 lead.
After shutting down Sidney Crosby (who was minus-four on Thursday) and winning 11 of 21 at the dot in the opener, Toews won 14 of 21 faceoffs against Columbus. He has three points (one goal, two assists) and is plus-six after two games.
Toews, Saad and Kane had two points each. Kane led the Hawks with six shots on net.
Hartman led the Hawks with five hits in a physical effort. Lance Bouma and John Hayden were credited with four hits each as well. Bouma dropped the gloves in the first period with Zac Dalpe.
Corey Crawford kept his goals against average at an even 1.00 with another stellar performance. He stopped 32 of 33 in the game to earn his second victory in as many games to begin the new season.
Tanner Kero was questionable after leaving the opener, and was a late scratch. Tommy Wingels replaced Kero in the lineup and saw some shifts on the third line between Sharp and Alex DeBrincat in the absence of Schmaltz.
Panarin was minus-two with only one shot on net.
Eddie Olczyk was in the house as well. We continue to wish him the best as he battles cancer.