Sabres vs. Blackhawks Recap: Toews becomes Buffalo hero in Chicago's 4-3 win
Jonathan Toews. Jonathan Toews. Jonathan Toews.
It was so very very close. The Sabres were almost tied with the Arizona Coyotes for the 30th position. Jonathan Toews made sure that didn't happen, scoring two goals in the final two minutes in Chicago's 4-3 victory.
The game began exactly as many would expect, with Chicago roaring out to a quick 2-0 lead thanks to goals from Duncan Kieth and Patrick Sharp and some questionable play by Anders Lindback. The Blackhawks talent was on display, but the Sabres did begin to turn the tide late in the period. They were only outshot by one.
The Sabres would continue to hang around, and the Blackhawks appeared to be taking the foot off the pedal. Marcus Foligno scored his first goal on the night by shooting the puck between the legs of a falling Scott Darling to cut the lead in half.
Then, Buffalo made a majority of it's fanbase incredibly frightened. Twitter was certainly something to watch. Trust me, I was a part of it. Johan Larsson tied the game when he perfectly deflected a Rasmus Ristolainen shot to the inside of the crossbar.
Seven minutes later Foligno got lucky when his fanned shot beat Darling, who was rather poorly positioned in the net. The Sabres were now in the lead, and as the minutes past it seemed as they would win a third straight time.
Then Toews happened.
On his first goal, Lindback gave up a very juicy rebound which was bound to be tapped in by the multitude of Chicago forwards looking to tie up the game. His second? That's why you want high draft picks. Chicago had a wonderful zone entry which set Toews up to perfectly pick the top left corner.
The Sabres lived to see another day. The Coyotes fell to the Sharks 3-1 tonight, so Buffalo is in the same position they were prior to the game, just with one less game remaining. The Sabres have four games left, and need to get less than three points to assure they'll finish with the last spot.
From a youth standpoint, it was a pretty good night as well. Foligno had the two goals, Larsson continued to add to his total and Ristolainen added three assists.
Honestly, the tanking is starting to get to my head. For those who have followed my writing, they know that I am a pretty avid fan of the Sabres plan. I believe this is the best way to succeed, the thing that can change the organization forever. I cheer when the other team scores. This is absolutely worth it.
Yet, I came to a realization watching tonight's game. I think I am seriously getting to the point where I don't like this team. They are getting in the way of the goal I have gotten increasingly invested in over the year as I watch loss after loss on NHL Gamecenter from here in Wisconsin. People who likely won't be in the NHL in a year could get in the way of that. I see them celebrate, and I can't help but feel like they are laughing as the plan crumbles.
I'm ready for this all to be over.
Onto the Islanders.
1. Can the Sabres ragtag team of underdogs continue to produce?
It had been 24 games since Foligno had last scored a goal, and he scored two tonight. These anomalies just keep happening.
2. Will the Blackhawks, who are fighting for playoff position, look motivated?
The Sabres got Chicago's backup goalie, and a team that looked somewhat uninterested for a majority of the game. A few minutes right at the beginning and end of the game were still enough to sink Buffalo.
3. Will cheers for the Blackhawks be audible in the crowd?
There apparently was a "Lets Go Blackhawks" chant going on late in the game, but it was also booed according to Mike Harrington. It seems that fans were somewhat behaving.