The Buffalo Sabres (0-5-1) traveled to the United Center tonight to face the Chicago Blackhawks (3-1-1), suffering a hard-fought 2-1 defeat.
Ryan Miller was in between the pipes, facing Corey Crawford in for the Hawks.
The first period started with both teams taking their turns firing on net. Chicago seemed to have all the tools in the shed out for the start, being able to record shots left and right. Buffalo was again sluggish to start offensively.
Finally, something had to give.
After a battle in the corner, Chicago’s Brandon Bollig came out with the puck and sent it to Duncan Keith. Keith passed the puck over to Brent Seabrook who wristed the puck towards the net. Ben Smith was able to get a piece of the shot and tipped the puck past Miller at 9:26 of the first period.
At the end of the period, Chicago led 1-0 and 20-6 in shots.
At the start of two, the Sabres had a very different change of pace. Being able to generate some chances had a great effect on the Sabres lacking offense. However, only able to shoot 10 times on net still hindered the Sabres goal scoring.
And again, the Blackhawks struck again.
Buffalo native Patrick Kane took advantage of a late penalty assessed to Rasmus Ristolainen. With 25 seconds remaining in the second period, Kane took a cross ice pass from Patrick Sharp, and Kane was able to wrist the puck into the open net.
The buzzer sounded, and the Blackhawks led, 2-0.
The third period looked the most promising of the three. The Sabres came out gunning right from the faceoff, and threatening the Blackhawk net was just what the team needed.
Finally, the crawling offense struck, and on the stick of Drew Stafford.
On a rush, Cody Hodgson slid the puck across the slot and found Drew Stafford streaking up the left side of the ice. With a flick of the wrist, Buffalo had cut the lead in half, and the Sabres were hungry for more.
A last ditch effort found the Sabres pulling Miller for an extra attacker. The fought and shot and tried everything they could to produce but no luck. Buffalo controlled the shots in this period, going 13 shots against the Blackhawks 3.
Unfortunately, one was all that could be allowed.
At the horn, the Sabres were still unvictorious. Falling 2-1 in this heart racing finish.
Miller faced 40 shots tonight, and turning away 38 of them. Crawford faced 29, turning away 28.
A notable player tonight was Alexander Sulzer, who made his first appearance since his knee injury last season. Sulzer was on the ice for about 20 minutes total.
The Sabres face former Sabre Jason Pominville and the Minnesota Wild on Monday night at 7:30PM.