Recap: Blackhawks Nip Sabres In OT


The much beleaguered Chicago Blackhawks picked up a much-needed 2 points last night in an overtime win at the United Center versus the lowly Buffalo Sabres.

Watching Jonathan Toews offer his customary fist-bumps and pats on the back to teammates last night as he does after every Hawk win, my thought was, after time passes, a 3-2 OT win looks just like a 7-1 domination. It’s 2 points.

The truth is, final scores can be deceiving, The Blackhawks had to scratch and claw to get to overtime and they ended the game on a bouncy Gustav Forsling shot with 5 seconds left in 3-on-3. Yet, they fairly dominated all phases of the game, putting 43 shots on Buffalo goalie Robin Lehner in regulation alone, and another 8 in OT.

Lehner was outstanding—the Hawks were very good for the most part, against a bad team. More on that in a second.

The Hawk power play was, ummm, better last night.

Alex DeBrincat notched the Hawks first goal on the man-advantage, doing what he does best—launching a quick wrister through a screen, with his lightning quick release. That goal tied the score at 1, but the tie didn’t last long, as Buffalo came back and extended the lead to 2-1.

The Hawks manufactured a good amount of shots on 4 power plays. The puck and player movement was nothing special, yet again, but they did make Lehner work, and got one goal.

A late shortie pushes it to OT

Tommy Wingels tied the score for the Hawks late in the third period on a short-handed chance, absorbing abuse in front of the Buffalo net. Wingels has shown a willingness to engage and go to the hard areas all season, and he was noticeable all night last night for the Hawks.

it was a sloppy but exciting OT, featuring a Jack Eichel penalty shot, earned when Gustav Forsling held the Buffalo superstar. Corey Crawford then stopped a tentative Eichel, and the teams were back to 3-on-3.

Forsling wins it

it appeared the game was going to the Stoopid Gary Bettman Gimmick Known As The Shootout, but the Hawks decided to play to the horn. Forsling, who was also outstanding all night and continues to improve virtually game by game, took a shot from just inside the blueline through a partial screen and beat the hard-luck Lehner for the game winner—and the extra point.

It’s really hard to gauge any “improvement” in the Hawks off this win. It was a game they should have won, if not dominated, on home ice and after some rest, against a bad team.

It wasn’t easy, however, mostly due to Lehner’s heroics. The effort was there all night, a power play goal, a shorthanded tally, and a win. What’s not to like?

OK. But it was Buffalo, and the next game is tomorrow night at home versus the Sabres of the Western Conference, the Arizona Coyotes. So these are games, especially with Corey Crawford back in net and looking none the worse for wear, that the Hawks should win.

For one night anyway, mission accomplished, take the points and move on.

Of further note

The long awaited season debut of Vince Hinostroza finally happened last night—and as I suggested on the RinkCast, Ryan Hartman sat. Did it make a difference? Well, Hinostroza didn’t take any dumb penalties. But other than that, no.

My guess is, Hartman is fairly deep in the doghouse and will sit for a while. But we’ll see. The historically cryptic personnel decisions of Joel Quenneville have become even harder to predict this year.

We’ll preview the Coyotes game tomorrow.

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