Sabres can’t hold lead, drop another road decision in Chicago

Buffalo dropped to 11-18-6 on the road this season after losing 5-4 in a shootout to the Blackhawks

As has been the case many times this season, the Buffalo Sabres failed to string together a full, 60-minute effort as they fell to the Chicago Blackhawks last night. Despite capturing a great deal of momentum in the second period, which helped result in a late lead, the boys in blue-and-gold could not hang on for a victory, marking the ninth consecutive time that they’ve lost at the United Center.

Given how poorly the Sabres started this contest, perhaps they’re somewhat fortunate to have obtained a point. The opening frame was relatively uneventful, that is until Chicago broke the scoreless tie with under four minutes remaining. Veteran defenseman, Duncan Keith registered his fourth tally of the season when he positioned himself in the slot with a nifty back-hand shot past an over-committed Carter Hutton with traffic in front.

The Blackhawks would increase their lead just 2:25 later when Artem Anisimov found himself on a breakaway. With a nifty move that forced Hutton to slide to his glove side, Anisimov flicked a wrist-shot into a wide-open blocker side for his 12th of the 2018-19 campaign.

In a Jekyll-Hyde fashion that Sabres fans have become accustomed to, Buffalo looked like a brand new squad in the middle frame, scoring three-straight goals to take a 3-2 lead into the third period.

Perpetual punching bag, Vladimir Sobotka found the twine for just the fifth time this season to open the scoring for Buffalo at 3:16. Following the initial slap-shot from Brandon Montour at the point, the nesuing rebound found the sticks of Tage Thompson and Zemgus Girgensons before landing on Sobotka’s stick for an easy tap-in on the left side of the Blackhawks’ net.

Less than two minutes later, Montour nabbed a goal of his own, marking his seventh of the season, and second as a member of the Sabres. After jumping into the offensive rush down the middle of the ice, he launched a beautiful wrist-shot past Corey Crawford’s blocker-side at 4:39.

The onslaught continued as Zach Bogosian got in on the action with a rare shorthanded goal, marking the Sabres’ third goal in three minutes and thirty seconds. Evan Rodrigues entered the Chicago zone on an odd-man rush, dishing the puck to Bogosian on the right side. The veteran defender then made a nifty move beside the net to tap a quickly-adjusted backhand over the line to give his team the lead at 6:45.

This marked just the second time since 2005-06 that two Buffalo defenders scored a shorthanded goal in the same season, according to the Sabres PR Twitter account (Jake McCabe registered the first in a matchup with the New Jersey Devils on January 8th).

The Blackhawks managed to mitigate the damage for the remainder of the second period, and came out swinging in the third. At 4:48 into the final 20 minutes, Anisimov registered his second of the evening, capitalizing on a poor defensive zone decision by Girgensons. Hutton did make the initial save, but the puck managed to trickle past him to tie the game at 3-3.

Rodrigues continued his quietly excellent play in this one when he found himself with Kyle Okposo on a two-on-one at 7:20. Entering the offensive zone with speed, he dished a nice pass to Okposo who managed to tap the puck past Crawford before crashing into the end-boards. The goal marked his 11th of the season.

On brand, the Sabres were quick to squandered their recently regained lead when Brendan Perlini once again evened things up just 37 seconds after Okposo’s tally. Confusion in front of the Buffalo net left Perlini relatively open in the slot where he capitalized for his eighth of the year.

The 4-4 tie would hold through the remainder of the third period and overtime, forcing a shootout. After exchanging goals on each of their respective first opportunities, Hutton wilted as Crawford held strong, securing a 5-4 victory for the his squad.

The Sabres dropped to 2-6-2 in their last 10. There were flashes of greatness in this one, but as has been the case all year, they failed to defeat a relatively weak foe on the road. If Buffalo plans on making serious strides next season, allowing a goal mere moments after gaining a lead is a habit that they’ll need to find a way to quash.

The Sabres’ next game is a matinee contest on Saturday as they travel to Colorado to take on the Avalanche. Puck drop is at 3:00PM.

Final: Sabres 4, Blackhawks 5 (SO)

Shots on Goal: Sabres 39 | Blackhawks 45

Sabres Goal Scorers: Vladimir Sobotka (5), Brandon Montour (7), Zach Bogosian (3), Kyle Okposo (11)

Blackhawks Goal Scorers: Duncan Keith (4), Artem Anisimov (12, 13), Brendan Perlini (8)

Three Stars of the Game

Artem Anisimov (2 G)

Patrick Kane (2 A)

Evan Rodrigues (2 A)