"What can I say? Friday night in Chicago, home opener at the United Center, get your first NHL win," Lankinen said. "Only the fans were missing, that sucks. But other than that, feels awesome."
"Great team win," added Ian Mitchell, who picked up his first NHL point on the night with an assist on de Haan's eventual game-winner. "We didn't have our best to start, but it was nice that we were able to win a hockey game, not playing our best. That's big to get that first one. We were just hanging on the first four games, trying to see when you're going to get the first win, so it's huge for us."
In his second NHL start, Lankinen played like a savvy veteran on Friday night at the United Center. Making 30 saves on the night to capture his first victory, the 24 year old was one Dylan Larkin show of skill away from his first shutout as well.
Regardless, he stood tall when called upon as Chicago snapped a streak of allowing five goals in each of their first four games.
"I thought he was really good," Colliton said. "Very controlled. Made some big saves for us, certainly in the first period when we needed one, when we weren't quite going yet. Penalty kill, he was a big part of. We did a good job killing, but you still need some saves and he was solid for us. You felt confident with him there."
"Made some huge saves for us, especially early on to keep us in the game," Patrick Kane said. "He was great tonight. He's a confident kid. He wants to to well and I think he believes in himself. Nice to see him get his first win and play that well doing it."
For the well-spoken Lankinen, the night was truly a dream come true.
"For me, it was a big night just being able to start the home opener," he said. "I always wanted to play here. I've seen the crowd, I've seen the history that goes in this building. I've been around for a couple years learning, getting to know the boys, getting to know the organization. I think they have done a really good job brining me in and making me feel comfortable.
"This night has been on my mind for a long time. Every time we've played a scrimmage or whatever, I've always imagined myself beign here in an NHL game. You wanted to have the home fans, it would've been great just to get that support, but we'll get there. I think all in all, it was a good night."
The power play is cooking for the Blackhawks with another two man-advantage tallies on Friday night -- the fifth straight game to open the year with a power-play goal. It's the first time since the 1993-94 season Chicago has done so to open a year.
Not only is one unit rocking, both have had success to start. Kane's first-period goal and Shaw's third-period strike added another two to the top unit's total just a game after Dominik Kubalik did the same himself for the second unit's count.
"I think that's the key, you've got both units going," Kane said of the success. "It helps a lot. No matter who's starting, the other one is ready to go, so it's been good. I think on our unit, just the movement in general has been a lot better, and there's a lot of options the way the hands are set up, especially for me when I have the puck. It's been good. Good start. We just want to continue it, not be satisfied with where we're at and just get better."
In the 317 days since the Blackhawks last competed on United Center ice, so much has changed in the world. One group truly stepped up for their home community during the COVID-19 Pandemic: Chicago's healthcare heroes and essentials workers.
When the Blackhawks took the ice for warmups on Friday night, all 20 players sported the names of a front-line worker, recognizing the true heroes of the last nine months. Before the puck dropped on the home opener, every player raised a stick in salute of those who have gone above and beyond.
"They're the reason we're playing in the first place," said Kane, who was sporting the name of Andrew Babochay, a registered nurse who was part of a COVID-19 response team. "Obviously it's not much, but nice little touch by the Hawks organization, the players to go out there and just show our appreciation in a little tiny way. We appreciate what they've done for us."
You can learn more about all the front-line workers who were saluted on Friday night here.