Hossa scored two goals and passed out an assist in the Blackhawks’ 5-2 win over the Los Angeles Kings at the Staples Center.
His performance was even more notable because it was his first game since he suffered a serious head injury and had to be taken off the ice on a stretcher in Game 3 of the Blackhawks' first-round playoff series last season. He missed the team’s final three games.
But what did Saturday’s game mean to Hossa?
Well, he actually believed he was capable of playing better. Beware, NHL.
“I tried to keep it simple, nothing too fancy,” Hossa said. “Keep it short shifts, try to get into it. I haven’t played in a long time, especially after the concussion. Obviously, timing isn’t there yet, but it’s going to come with games.”
Hossa let everyone know he was back to being a factor within the game’s first five minutes.
With the Blackhawks on a 5-on-3 power play, Patrick Kane passed the puck to Hossa near the top of the right circle and drifted to the bottom of the circle. Hossa quickly delivered the puck back to Kane, who one-timed it past Kings goalie Jonathan Quick and into the net at 3:41.
Hossa was just getting started.
Later in the first period, Hossa gathered a pass from Daniel Carcillo while on the move near the blue line at the right side of the rink. Hossa slowed down and centered the puck as Jonathan Toews was breaking toward the net. The pass bypassed Toews, deflected off a Kings defenseman’s leg and snuck past Quick in the left corner for a goal.
Hossa finished his afternoon by rifling a shot past Quick into the bottom right corner from just before the right circle.
Throughout it all, Hossa said he never once thought about what happened to him last season or felt concerned about it happening again.
“I was worried about it when it was the beginning of November,” Hossa said. “That’s why I practiced so hard to be comfortable going to the corner, having three [defenders] on me, trying to play physical in the corners. After I was cleared in mid-November, I was happy where I was.”
The Blackhawks and coach Joel Quenneville also were happy to see where Hossa was on Saturday. To have a successful season, the Blackhawks could use the standard Hossa season, which has meant 50-plus points the past 12 seasons. His 77 points last season was the most he had since having 100 points for the then-Atlanta Thrashers in 2006-07.
Quenneville said he wasn’t sure what Hossa would do in the season opener.
“It’s that first game,” Quenneville said. “You wonder how he’s going to handle it. We saw all week that he looked like the pace to his game was good.”
“It was positive the way he showed with practice this week and getting off scoring like that early and having some production," he added. “Whether he has some production or not, we know at the end of the day he’s as positionally sound of a player [as any] in the league.”
Kane was just as happy to have Hossa back.
“He played a great game,” Kane said. “He’s a great player. He played great for us last year. He had a great start to the season. It was tough for us to see him get hurt like that. He played great tonight.”