The Buffalo Sabres were outplayed for the majority of last night by the Chicago Blackhawks. They were outshot, dominated in possession and out-chanced thoroughly by the home team. However, after all of that, the Sabres were a little over three minutes from stealing two points in Chicago.
The Hawks peppered the Sabres goal in the first period, but Robin Lehner set the tone for what would be a solid night for him. He held Chicago off the board as the Blackhawks played keep away against the Sabres for the majority of the first 20 minutes.
Late in the period the Sabres picked up their second power play of the period and snapped a 0/30 streak with the man advantage. Jason Pominville tipped a Jack Eichel pass over the shoulder of Corey Crawford to give his club a 1-0 lead after 20 minutes. The shots on goal in the period really told the story with the Blackhawks leading 13-5.
The second was probably the best period we saw from the Sabres last night. They were able to force Crawford to make some saves and prove he wasn’t rusty in his first game back from injury.
Chicago did end up tying the game on the power play. Arguably the early Calder Trophy favorite Alex DeBrincat beat Lehner with a shot on the short side to make it 1-1 as we closed in on the halfway point of the period.
A good trend we’ve seen lately is the Sabres completely crumbled when they face some adversity. The trend continued tonight as they took the lead right back two minutes and thirty seconds later. Kyle Okposo got free in the hot slot and sniped a shot high glove past Crawford. After 40 minutes the Sabres would head to the final period up 2-1.
In the final 20 minutes, the Blackhawks brought the pressure as you would expect. The visitors were able to withstand the furry in the final minutes. Then the season nemesis came to haunt the Sabres again. The power play.
Brent Seabrook would sit two minutes for interference with under five minutes remaining. Instead of the Sabres taking advantage to put the Blackhawks away. They looked like the team killing the penalty. Chicago pressured the Sabres and eventually was able to tie the game. Gustav Forsling took a point shot and Tommy Wingels deflected the shot by Lehner to tie it at two. This would be the eighth short-handed goal against for Buffalo and we still have over 50 games left.
Patrick Sharp almost ended the game in the final seconds of regulation but put the puck off the far post while staring at an empty cage. We’d end up heading to overtime as each club picked up a point and would battle for the bonus point.
The overtime session was very entertaining with the two teams exchanging opportunities at each end of the ice. The best opportunity for the Sabres came when Eichel used his speed to get by Forsling and was hauled down when he was in alone on Crawford. The Sabres top player would be rewarded a penalty shot and have an opportunity to end the game. Unfortunately for the Sabres Crawford was up to the task and stopped Eichel’s attempt.
We played on and in the final seconds of the overtime, the Blackhawks finished the comeback. Forsling put a seemingly harmless wrist shot on goal from the blue line on net. Rasmus Ristolainen was camped out in front of his own goaltender and did a great job providing a screen. Lehner didn’t pick up the puck until it was too late and the Hawks would get the game-winner with five seconds left in the extra period.
Final Score: Blackhawks 3, Sabres 2 - Overtime
Shots on Goal: Blackhawks 51 | Sabres 28
Blackhawks Goal Scorers: DeBrincat (12), Wingels (3) and Forsling (3)
Sabres Goal Scorers: Pominville (8) and Okposo (4)
Three Stars of the Game
1. Gustav Forsling (1 G, 2 A)
2. Robin Lehner (48 saves on 51 shots)
3. Alex DeBrincat (1 G)
Comment of the Game
2019 5th round pick with an assist
"What’s that? Ah — Playoffs?" - '17-'18 Buffalo Sabres
What to Watch
1. Two struggling teams
Chicago breaks a five game winless streak.
2. Buffalo's bad luck against Chicago
Winless streak in Chicago will go at least 11 years and they’re now 0-8-3 in their last 11 against the Hawks.
3. No offense
Two is better than none or only one.