The Sabres were unable to make a 42-save outing from Chad Johnson stand up as the offense remains woefully snake bit. Buffalo has tallied just twice in its last two games and only eight games over the life of its losing skid. Anyone not named Ryan O'Reilly or Jack Eichel seems incapable of contributing offensively right now. Including O'Reilly's team-leading 17th goal tonight—which briefly tied the game—those two have combined to score 10 of the Sabres' last 15 goals.
Buffalo had its chances, especially early in the first period, but were unable to muster much against Chicago's Corey Crawford, who turned away 28-of-29 shots. The Sabres' effort waned as the night went on, generating only six shots in the third period en route to being outshot, 45-29, and out-attempted, 70-53.
Defensive breakdowns cost the Sabres as well. You can point to a number of defensive zone issues on the Blackhawks' first goal of the night. After Eichel failed to tie Jonathan Toews up on the boards, Zach Bogosian and Jake McCabe were caught out of position, leaving the middle of the ice wide open for a charging Niklas Hjalmarsson to take advantage of. Danault's game-winner came after Rasmus Ristolainen failed to close his gap, allowing for a shot that, in all fairness, Johnson probably should have stopped.
Three Questions Answered
1. Can the first pairing answer the bell?
Rasmus Ristolainen and Josh Gorges were the Sabres two worst players, in terms of shot attempts against. Gorges was a -18 and Ristolainen was -13. As mentioned above, Ristolainen also badly misplayed Danault on the game-winner. The rookie caught Ristolainen backing up and took advantage of the ample space the Sabres defenseman provided him.
2. Can the Sabres score without Jack Eichel or Ryan O'Reilly on the ice?
Nope. O'Reilly again had to come to the team's rescue, scoring Buffalo's only goal of the game—which briefly tied the game. A great stat courtesy of @SabresStats: All of O'Reilly's 17 goals this season have come in the second period or later, including 10 in the third period.
3. Can the Sabres end their five-game losing steak?
Nope. The streak lives to see another day! Next chance to get back into the win column is Sunday afternoon in Winnipeg.