Fresh off a dramatic 2–1 win over the San Jose Sharks in a nine-round shootout at the United Center, the Chicago Blackhawks hit the road to take on the Buffalo Sabres at KeyBank Center on Thursday night. A snowstorm in Buffalo resulted in the postponement of the game from Wednesday night and gave the Hawks an extra night of rest. Arvid Soderblom started for the Hawks against the Sabres’ Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen.
The Blackhawks and Sabres played a scoreless first period with Buffalo outshooting the Hawks 13–4. While the Hawks were able to generate some high-danger chances, the Sabres controlled the play most of the period thanks to two power play chances. To further showcase the zone time discrepancy, the Hawks registered 12 blocked shots in the first period alone.
The Sabres finally broke the scoreless drought with a power play goal. Zemgus Girgensons tipped in a Ryan Johnson shot from the half boards for his fourth of the season at 12:27 of the middle period to give Buffalo a 1–0 lead. The Sabres held that lead through 40 minutes.
In the third period, right after a Buffalo power play expired, the Sabres extended their lead to 2–0 when JJ Peterka scored his 14th of the season on a wrist shot from in between the boards and right goal post. When Peterka shot the puck, the blade of his stick and the puck were behind the goal line and the shot hit the side of Soderblom’s mask and fell into the net at the 2:55 mark.
With Philipp Kurashev serving a five-minute major for boarding Erik Johnson, the Sabres extended their lead on the power play when Rasmus Dahlin scored his 13th of the season. Dahlin’s shot went in off the stick of Hawks defenseman Jaycob Megna at 6:06 of the third.
Perhaps it was the unexpected day off on Wednesday, but the Blackhawks looked sluggish from the start. The Hawks took several careless penalties and were never able to get into any sort of flow. The Blackhawks continued to struggle offensively, both in scoring goals and generating any sustained momentum in the offensive zone. The Hawks were outshot 31–20 for the game, as Luukkonen registered his second consecutive shutout. Including this game, the Hawks have scored just 11 goals in regulation in nine games this month. On the bright side, while he did not get the win, Soderblom played well enough to keep the Hawks in the game, but the lack of goals came back to bite the Hawks again.
The Hawks fly back to Chicago tonight and will play Friday night at the United Center against the New York Islanders. Puck drop is at 7:30 p.m. CST on NBCSCH and WGN Radio 720 AM.