The Buffalo Sabres went into the United Center seen as severe underdogs against a Cup contending team that was having their home opener. For forty minutes, they seemed like they were going to get enough bounces to be able to hang with Chicago as well. But, the final twenty minutes proved deadly as Chicago poured on four goals on their way to a 6-2 victory on Saturday night.
The Blackhawks got their scoring started quickly, with the first goal of the game coming just 59 seconds into the game and the second happening 1:53 after that. Andrew Shaw scored the first off a deflection in front of the net from a Brandon Saad shot. Duncan Keith scored the second on a wrist shot from the top of the zone after getting the puck from a Cody Hodgson turnover. Chicago was dominating possession for much of the first period, but the Sabres were able to get their goals coming on rushes up the ice. The first goal was a beauty from Zemgus Girgensons who roofed the shot over Corey Crawford in front of the net and Tyler Ennis tied the game at the close of the period with his first career shorthanded goal.
After a quiet second period, the Blackhawks broke the tie at the 5:58 mark of the period when Patrick Kane was able to enter the offensive zone relatively untouched and received a nice pass in front of the net from Andrew Shaw. From there, Marian Hossa scored a shorthanded goal, Patrick Sharp scored on the powerplay, and Daniel Carcillo just scored to continue the scoring offensive. Jhonas Enroth finished the night with 41 saves on 47 shots allowed while Corey Crawford saw far less work with 23 shots faced and made 21 saves on the night.
Three Questions Answered
1. How will the center swap work out?
The swap worked out fantastically for Zemgus Girgensons who scored again to give himself the second of the season. The Hodgson/Girgensons/Gionta line had the highest amount of defensive zone starts for the team and the line's Corsi suffered because of it. Both Gionta and Hodgson finished the game with a -25 Corsi while Girgensons finished with a -19 Corsi. On the other hand, the Reinhart/Stewart/Foligno line had the highest percentage of offensive zone starts and Reinhart finished a -1 with just one shot on goal.
2. Can Jhonas Enroth survive his first big test against Chicago?
His defense didn't help out much with 47 shots allowed, but six goals against can't inspire much confidence in Enroth's first big test. He did make some big saves to keep this game from becoming a full on boat race, though, as it could have been much, much worse.
3. How will the Sabres bounce back from their first loss
In the exact same fashion as their first loss, the Sabres gave up late goals in the third period to wipe away a chance at a point. The lack of puck possession by the Sabres seems to catch up with the team late in games thus far and their six goals allowed in the third period is second only to the Philadelphia Flyers in the infancy of the season.
The Sabres will head back home to take on the Anaheim Ducks in a Columbus Day/Canadian Thanksgiving afternoon matinee. Game time on Monday is 3:00 pm.