Blackhawks punish Sabres 6-2
This would be a rare meeting between two hockey clubs. Being that one is in the East and the other in the West these clubs do not face each other often and are unfamiliar with each other’s tendencies. This will in fact be the only meeting this year between the two teams.
These clubs are also going in different directions. Buffalo is fourth in their division and eleventh in the Eastern Conference with a 19-21-5 record and the face of the franchise goalie Ryan Miller is struggling. In fact for this game Buffalo went with Jhonas Enroth in net. Miller however is not the only one however who needs to play better for Buffalo.
The Blackhawks were coming in fifth place in the Western Conference and third in the tough Central division. Again they would be on the national stage but hoping for a better result than 3-2 OT loss to the Detroit Red Wings and they did not disappoint
Buffalo was coming in with nothing to lose or at stake and the Blackhawks everything at stake sitting behind both the Red Wings and Blues with both of them having the night off, time to make up some ground. Make up ground they did and improved their power play as a side benefit.
Buffalo struck first with a semi breakaway that saw a Hawks miscommunication between Hossa and the defense pairing of Keith and Seabrook. Keith and Seabrook got caught out of position as they were sneaking in to the attack zone when a Hossa pass went awry and the defense could not recover in time as Buffalo captain Jason Pominville put one past Crawford.
When you’re hot your hot or should I say when you’re dirty your filthy. Andrew Shaw got his fifth goal because he was well positioned in front of the net all alone to pounce on the juicy rebound Enroth gave up. Shaw is not afraid to get into the down and dirty areas in front of the oppositions net and it is paying off. Assists came from the defensemen Keith and Montador. If Shaw keeps this up, all the vendors will have a tough time keeping the number 65 jersey in stock. Forget about Tebowing, Chicago is getting Shawd and can’t get enough.
Then on a delay of game the Hawks went on the power play. Seabrook blasted one from the point with Shaw and Toews parked out in front of Enroth which again rebounded perfectly off the post to Jonathan Toews who tapped it in the Sabres net 2-1 Blackhawks. Assist went to Kane too.
What has to make coach Q happy is the Hawks power play got healthy in the first period going one for two. Both Hawks goals were scored because of net front presence. Solid first period for the Blackhawks with the most telling stats being 12-6 advantage in face-offs won and 5-1 take aways.
To start the second the Sabres got their own goal on the power play from Pominville again. 2-2 tie early in the second period.
Turnabout is fair play when the Hawks got a breakaway of their own when Duncan Keith intelligently intercepted a pass by Ville Leino. His pass was picture perfect and Hossa was on the express train to the goal and put it in the Buffalo net 3-2 Hawks.
Not to be out done by his fellow rookie teammate, Jimmy Hayes received a beauty of a cross ice pass from Andrew Brunette and tipped it past Enroth 4-2 Hawks. Give another helping hand to Hjalmarsson.
Kruger should have had a goal on the brilliant play by Shaw who gloved an airborne puck and put it to his stick but No Goal due to the referees not seeing that the puck went to Shaws stick before it went to Kruger and was ruled a hand pass so the score stayed 4-2. Still the second period saw the Sabres with a little more jump in their game but the effort in general on their part was not good and they are a hockey club in disarray.
As the third started Jimmy Hayes did a drop pass between his legs that Magic Johnson would have been proud of to Dave Bolland who ripped it past Enroth 5-2 Blackhawks. Then on a five on three power play Toews got his second of the night from the slot beating Enroth 6-2 Hawks.
The story in this one besides the fact that the Buffalo Sabres are not a very good hockey team is the kids continue to impress with their play. Both Andrew Shaw and Jimmy Hayes had a goal and an assist and are contributing in a huge way. The longer they can play the better it will be for the Blackhawks in the long run as they are gaining valuable NHL ice time and experience which will help this team make a deep playoff run.
The power play also improved as well when the Blackhawks went two for four and improved to ninth overall in the league.
As for the old timers, Jonathan Toews lead the way with two goals and Brent Seabrook and Duncan Keith each with two assists and providing solid defensive play. Dave Bolland saw his goal count continuing as he stretched his run to 5 goals in the past six games.
The Blackhawks with this win are back in first place in the division and in the Western Conference and tied with the New York Rangers with 62 points overall in the league. The Blackhawks did tonight what they have had problems with this year. They handily beat a team that they should have and played a full game with a solid effort.
Three stars of the game – 3) Andrew Shaw 2) Duncan Keith 1) Jimmy Hayes
Hawks next play again Friday @ the United Center vs. the Florida Panthers which can be caught on CSN or WGN Radio 720. Start time is early at 7:30 pm CT
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