RECAP: Blackhawks flying high, down Sabres for fourth straight victory

  

The Blackhawks felt sweet revenge against the Nashville Predators on Saturday night, throttling the “Mustard Tigers” 7–2. Looking to build on that momentum, the Blackhawks kept everything the same for Sunday night’s contest against the Buffalo Sabres aside from Corey Crawford starting in net. 

With no line changes from Saturday to Sunday, the Blackhawks trotted out the following line combinations:

SaadToewsNylander

DeBrincat StromeKane

Kubalik Kampf Shaw

SmithDachCarpenter

Keith Gustafsson

de HaanSeabrook

MaattaMurphy

Crawford

First period

The period began with a buzzing Blackhawks squad showing well early. In the first three minutes alone, the Blackhawks looked like they were ready to play, despite having played the night before.

The Sabres began to pick up their play as the period wore on, specifically almost capitalizing on a Crawford mistake. The Chicago netminder made a desperation save when scampering back to his net after playing a puck. Fortunately, the puck stayed out and Dominik Kubalik had a semi breakaway the other way, but he was ultimately denied by Buffalo goaltender Carter Hutton.

The best chance for the Hawks came after an Alex DeBrincat penalty. As the penalty expired, DeBrincat and Dylan Strome exchanged passes. Strome threw the puck behind the net in the offensive zone to “The Cat” and the undersized winger found Patrick Kane open in the slot. The point-blank bid was denied by Hutton, but could have easily been a goal given the nifty passing from that line.

Not too long after, the Blackhawks capitalized on their momentum following the failed Buffalo power play. A Duncan Keith outlet pass ended up on Kirby Dach’s stick as he skated to the defensive blue line. Dach set up a give-and-go with Kubalik as they passed through the neutral zone. Dach made an outstanding play on his individual effort, lowering his shoulder to shield a defender and put a backhand shot over Hutton’s shoulder for the first tally of the game and a 1–0 Chicago lead.

Despite a late power play for the Blackhawks in the period, Chicago could not add to its lead. However, the Hawks took their 1–0 lead into the first intermission without issue after a fast first period between both teams. 

Second period

The middle frame did not lack any action, beginning in a similar fashion to that of the first period. In the first seven minutes of the period, both teams traded power play opportunities, but neither team could capitalize on their opportunity.

The majority of the period was defined by big saves from Crawford. The Hawks’ goaltender was superb, making numerous big stops on Sabre shooters. 

With about eight minutes remaining in the period, Dach nearly tallied his second goal of the game. Zach Smith tipped a puck at the blue line to open ice. Dach had a free chance from the top of the circles going in, but was denied by Hutton’s spectacular save. 

Under a minute later, Dach indeed picked up his second goal of the game. After the fourth line had a great chance before, head coach Jeremy Colliton sent that line back out there for another possession. Smith found Dach skating in and the rookie made a beautiful move to finish on the breakaway. Dach’s sneaky speed played a key on the play, as he was able to slip behind the Sabres’ defense and generate the open chance. 

To the surprise of many, Erik Gustafsson dropped the gloves with Buffalo forward Jimmy Vesey not long after Dach’s goal. One of the last people most Blackhawks fans would expect to fight put up a solid effort against Vesey.

Dach continued his dominance during the game by drawing a penalty. The 18-year-old skated into the offensive zone and nearly beat two Sabres defenders to get off an open shot. As he went to shoot, the Sabres took the penalty to prevent the quality chance and sent the home team to the man advantage. 

Just as the time was about to expire, Dach was called for interference on a strange play. Without a stick, Dach was skating to the bench. On his way back, he lit up Sam Reinhart, drawing the penalty.

The 2–0 lead was safe for now heading into the second intermission. Chicago continued to be outshot by the visitors, but Dach was the difference to that point. 

Third period

The Blackhawks began the third period by killing the Dach penalty with relative ease. To add to the action, the Blackhawks nearly ended the kill with a goal after Jonathan Toews was denied by Hutton on a two-on-one opportunity with Ryan Carpenter. 

Just a few minutes after the kill, the Blackhawks once again had a chance on the power play. The man advantage began with Andrew Shaw taking a face off to Hutton’s left. 

The face off resulted in a 50-50 puck that numerous players for both teams attempted to corral. In normal “Showtime” fashion, Kane used his quick hands to secure the puck, quickly turn around and rip a shot past Hutton to extend the Hawks’ lead to 3–0. The goal extended Kane’s point streak to nine games. 

Brandon Saad was denied twice on solid open chances in the period. On the second chance, Jake McCabe tied up Saad when he went to bury the chance with a backhand. To Saad’s credit, he stuck with the play and set up Toews to extend the Blackhawks’ lead to 4–0.

The third period had quite a pace to it. Just as Gene Honda was announcing the Toews goal, Calvin de Haan turned a puck over at the Hawks’ blue line and Jack Eichel had an open chance on Crawford. Eichel was able to capitalize and beat Crawford to give cut into the Blackhawks’ advantage at 4–1. 

The momentum was then in favor of the Sabres. Following the Eichel goal, Evan Rodrigues went to the net and nearly scored again, but the Sabres did draw a penalty, so they returned to the power play looking to close the scoring gap even further.

The Blackhawks controlled the Sabres on the man advantage. The Hawks generated the best chance of the Sabres’ man advantage when Saad had a breakaway from his own blue line in. Unfortunately, Saad could not get off a quality chance when trying to tuck the puck past Hutton.

The game had plenty of action for the rest of the game. In the last two minutes, Colliton threw Kane out on the ice with Dach to try and get the rookie his first career hat trick. Dach had a great backhand chance, but the shot sailed wide.

Despite the lack of a hat trick, the Blackhawks pick up their fourth consecutive win, downing the Sabres 4–1. 

Quick hits

  • Someone call a Dach-tor: Kirby Dach was spectacular in this game. I am not underselling that either. He was all over the ice, using his speed, creating chances with effort and was a difference maker in this game. Dach has proven he belongs in the NHL, and, in his first season, could be a surprise that many fans did not expect as his confidence continues to grow each game.
  • The Crow: Corey Crawford had another great game for the Blackhawks. The goaltending for the Hawks has been arguably the biggest strength for this team and Crawford continued that effort against the Sabres. He is 11–0 in his career against the boys from Buffalo and he and Robin Lehner put on a show over the course of the weekend back-to-back.
  • This team is fun again: Not only was Connor Murphy a welcomed addition to the lineup against Nashville, but this team is beginning to play with confidence and swag. The Blackhawks are fun to watch again. There I said it. Are they perfect? No. Are they the teams of old? No. Are they fun to watch and giving fans a sense of hope for something positive in the future? Absolutely. At this point, the Blackhawks are trending toward being the hottest ticket in town once again, especially with how the Bears and Bulls are playing.

The Blackhawks will host the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday at the United Center. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. CST.

Center Ice Forums RECAP: Blackhawks flying high, down Sabres for fourth straight victory

Viewing 1 post (of 1 total)
Viewing 1 post (of 1 total)
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.