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Preview: Sabres return home to face Blackhawks

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Hunt for playoff points continues

NHL: Chicago Blackhawks at Buffalo Sabres Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

Game 51

Buffalo Sabres (25-19-6) vs. Chicago Blackhawks (18-24-9)

Puck Drop: 7:00 PM | Key Bank Center | Buffalo, NY

TV: MSG-B, NSCH

Radio: WGR 550

SB Nation Blackhawks Blog: Second City Hockey

Know Your Opponent

Chicago Blackhawks

Record: (18-24-9) | 45 points

Last 10: 3-4-3

Division Ranking: 7th in the Central Division

Conference Ranking: 14th in the Western Conference

PP: 16th (20.1%)

PK: 31st (74.1%)

What to Watch

1. Home game stretch

The Sabres will be back on home ice in the first of seven home games this month. The team currently sits three points behind Columbus for the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference and will be looking to edge closer with a win tonight. They have had a tough stretch as of late - losing six of their last 10. Fans will be looking for the team to start turning it back around.

2. Patrick Kane returns home

Kane returns to his hometown to face the Sabres in the pair’s first match-up since March 2018. He is shy just one point of hitting 900 NHL points in his already highly successful career. Kane has an impressive 71 points this season so far - 13 of which were recorded in his last five games.

3. First game for Blackhawks since before All Star break

After a very rough start to the season (with two separate eight-game losing streaks), the Blackhawks are hungry for any win they can get. Just before the league’s most recent ‘bye,’ the Blackhawks were gaining momentum with two big wins at home against playoff contending teams - the Washington Capitals and the New York Islanders. During the now second half of the season, they will be trying to make a nearly impossible run at a playoff spot.

Buffalo Sabres

Forwards

Jeff Skinner - Jack Eichel - Sam Reinhart

Conor Sheary - Casey Mittelstadt - Evan Rodrigues

Tage Thompson - Vladimir Sobotka - Jason Pominville

Zemgus Girgensons - Johan Larsson - Kyle Okposo

Defense

Jake McCabe - Rasmus Ristolainen

Rasmus Dahlin - Zach Bogosian

Marco Scandella - Lawrence Pilut

Starting Goaltender: Carter Hutton

Chicago Blackhawks

Forwards

Drake Caggiula - Jonathan Toews - Patrick Kane

Alex Debrincat - Dylan Strome - Dominik Kahun

Brandon Saad - David Kampf - Marcus Kruger

Chris Kunitz - Artem Anisimov - John Hayden

Defense

Duncan Keith - Brent Seabrook

Henri Jokiharju - Connor Murphy

Slater Koekkoek - Erik Gustafsson

Starting Goaltender: Cam Ward (unconfirmed)