CHICAGO -- Joel Quenneville had a message for the Blackhawks a few hours before their 2013 Stanley Cup championship banner was raised to the United Center rafters.
"Enjoy it," Quenneville said to his players. "It will be a special moment in your life. At the same time, when that's over and they drop the puck, it's time to play for keeps."
The Hawks heeded their coach's advice and kicked off the 2013-14 season with a sharply played 6-4 victory over the Capitals on Tuesday night in front of 22,158 highly entertained fans.
Johnny Oduya notched the game-winner in the third period, while Brandon Saad had a goal and two assists, Marian Hossa a goal and an assist and Patrick Kane, Brandon Bollig and Brent Seabrook a goal apiece. Niklas Hjalmarsson added two assists.
After a stirring ceremony, the Hawks got down to business and led 2-1 after the first period on Bollig's first regular-season goal and a typical highlight-reel score from Kane.
"It was a good, fast-paced game," said winning goalie Corey Crawford, who made 28 saves. "We played really well, especially at the start. Everyone was going to think we were going to come out slow, and we had the start that we wanted."
Mikhail Grabovski had three goals and an assist and Alex Ovechkin a goal and an assist for the Capitals, but Braden Holtby couldn't hold the lead.
Holtby got a glove on Oduya's knuckling shot with 6 minutes, 7 seconds remaining, but it slid into the net as the Hawks rallied from a third-period deficit.
"It's good to get the first two points out of the way," Bollig said. "Our main focus is to get off to a great start this year and put ourselves in a good situation to win the division and take it from there in the playoffs."
The Hawks prevailed despite yielding three power-play goals, and the penalty kill came through when needed as it killed off a span of 1:26 down 5-on-3 in the waning minutes.
"It was a pretty interesting spot we put ourselves in," Quenneville said. "We give up three power-play goals and then we're facing a 5-on-3 for almost two full minutes against the best power play in the league. We avoided what could have been a disaster. (Crawford) made some big stops and got through it."
Trailing 4-3 in the third, Saad and Michal Handzus worked a terrific give-and-go that evened the score. Saad passed to Handzus, who sent a pretty feed to a charging Saad in the slot, and the winger chipped it past Holtby.
Oduya's winner wasn't a thing of beauty, but it was pretty enough to give the Hawks the lead. Hossa capped the scoring when he was credited with a goal after being dragged down on a breakaway with the Washington net empty.
"I think that's the first goal in my career I didn't have to score," Hossa said with a smile.
There were plenty of those in the Hawks dressing room after they kicked off their Stanley Cup defense with a solid win.
"Two points, that's what we were looking for," winger Bryan Bickell said. "We have a couple of things we need to work on, but overall we're happy."
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