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Three Stars: Oduya Nets Winner as Hawks Win Home Opener

Brandon Bollig also scores as Hawks start out season with a bang

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 01: Brandon Bollig #52 of the Chicago Blackhawks celebrates a first period goal against the Washington Capitals at the United Center on October 1, 2013 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

    Birthday boy Johnny Oduya netted the game winner in the third period, and Brandon Saad picked up three points as the Chicago Blackhawks beat the Washington Capitals 6-4 at the United Center on Tuesday night. 

    Mikhail Grabovski scored a hat trick for the Caps, but it wasn't enough as Brandon Bollig, Marian Hossa, Patrick Kane, and Brent Seabrook all had goals for the victorious Hawks as they celebrated their 2013 Stanley Cup championship at the UC. 

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    We'll have more reaction to the game throughout the day, but meanwhile, here are Tuesday's Three Stars: 

    Third Star: Johnny Oduya 

    Oduya's goal in the third period may have come as a result of a deflection by Washington forward Joel Ward deflecting the shot off to Braden Holtby's glove, but his play overall on the night was good even outside of his tally. 

    He ended up with four shots on goal on the night, and he also led the team with four blocked shots in the winning effort. 

    Obviously, Oduya and the rest of the penalty killing unit didn't exactly light the world on fire in this one, but since that is more of a team metric than something that can be pinned on an individual player, we'll go ahead and give him star honors. 

    Second Star: Michal Handzus

    Handzus missed most of the second period of the game after getting socked on a big hit early in that frame, but his pass that set up the Saad goal in the third period that tied the contest up at 4-4 really deserves a lot of praise. 

    On the play, Saad and Handzus came up on a 2-on-2 rush, and Saad dished it to his teammate along the boards at the blue line. Handzus brought the puck up ice a bit, and then feathered a tremendous saucer pass over a couple of sticks and found Saad streaking to the net, and he didn't miss on the tally. 

    There have been plenty of questions as to whether or not Handzus is going to be up to the challenge in centering the Hawks' second line, but he's still got plenty left in the tank, as he showed with his excellent effort in this one. 

    First Star: Brandon Saad 

    Worries of a sophomore slump for Saad proved unfounded on Tuesday night, as he racked up a goal and two assists in the Hawks' victory. 

    He ended up having the primary assist on Oduya's game winning tally in the third, and he also was part of the excellent puck movement that the Hawks' power play displayed in the second period as the Hawks showed some great skill in an area that was a definite weak spot on their team a season ago. 

    Obviously, one game out of 82 isn't going to be enough to appropriately judge Saad's second season in the league, but if he can put forward the kind of all around effort that he did in this one, then he is going to be just fine wherever head coach Joel Quenneville puts him in the lineup.